ALF Henery who, alongside other volunteers, feed people one hot meal each day from Bellair Park, grinned widely when describing what has become to be known as the “miracle chicken meal”.
“On one day, there was a single pot of chicken which was brought to the table to be served. When we looked at the volume of food we thought it might not be enough to feed more than perhaps 50 people and we generally have between up to 180 people each day coming here for food.”
However, acting in accordance with the faith, he and the volunteers dished up from that pot again and again and Alf remarked that the pot seemed to never get empty. “It just seemed to stay full and no one was left without a meal that day,” he exclaimed.
“I think that is as close to a miracle as anything I have ever seen.”
When lockdown first began, some people, despite regulations not permitting them to do so, took it upon themselves to serve meals to the people of the greater Hillary, Bellair and Seaveiw community where many families found themselves in dire straits due to regulations which didn’t permit them to go out and work. Groups organised themselves, arranged to collect donations and put themselves to work to provide for many who couldn’t help themselves.
Now, over 100 days into lockdown, Alf and the volunteers, who turn up each day to help feed the people, have developed a rota of who is to cook is followed and the feeding begins at 3.30pm sharp after a short moment of prayer led by one of the volunteers.
There was an overwhelming sense of gratitude from the people who arrived on the day the Queensburgh News visited the park. “If it weren’t for this, I wouldn’t be able to feed my family,” said one woman who had come with her small children but asked not to be named.
“We recently moved to the area so we know no one,” she explained.
“My husband left to go and work overseas shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic began and was sent back shortly after arriving, so he had no earnings and had the extra expenses of paying for his repatriation,” she said.
Another man, who also asked not to be names, explained that many people felt deeply ashamed of their plight, but the volunteers were very good about making sure dignity was maintained as much as possible.
Alf explained that a decision had been made from the outset to help to maintain the dignity of people as much as possible.
“When people have so little, the least we can do is help them maintain their dignity,” he said.
“For this reason, when we do feeding, or when we drop off food parcels, we never take pictures of the people who are helped, but just the food parcel itself, to send back to our sponsors.”
Alf said the donations of food parcels to people who were unable to attend the feeding was according to the need of the people and they made sure to pass on contact details of the people they helped to their sponsors so that, should they want to audit what was being done with their donations, they would be able to.
“It is essential that we maintain openness and transparency,” said Alf. “This is the time when we least can afford people to be suspicious of those who are trying to help them.”
The original article “The curious story of a miracle chicken meal: Feeding the hungry in Bellair” first appeared in thehighwaymail.co.za. To view the original article please click HERE.