“Why is this Korean leek in here? It should go into the kimchi (Seasoned Korean cabbage)!”
“Oops, we made a mistake!”
At , the volunteers of Freefood start moving to prepare lunch for the elderly and homeless members of their community. Located in Daejo-dong,
“Established in 2004 to care for lonely elderly and homeless people, Freefood is run only with the donations from our members and has neither a religious mission nor a political color,” said the president of Freefood, Kwon Joo-woong.
Freefood begins the day at when volunteers for the day arrive and start washing the vegetables and other ingredients which will be used for lunch. “It is my first time slicing mushrooms and cracking eggs in such a big quantity,” says a volunteer Yeoh Hyang-mi (Seoul Woman’s
In order to serve the day’s menu, bulgogi, omelettes and kimchi, the volunteers are divided into three groups. Kim Young-mi, who is the day’s chief chef how to cook, “Now, when the egg turns nice and yellow, you have to start rolling up the egg.” Kim says that she feels happy when she sees the elderly people enjoying their meals. “I am not the best cook, but all the people who come here seem to be pleased.”
As the time nears , Kim busily moves on to the bulgogi section, and calls for help to the student volunteers so that she can start stirring. While the cooking team is busy finishing up the dishes, the other volunteers are entertaining the guests. “Everyone, why don’t we play a little game called ‘Can you touch your tummy?’” one volunteer asks. Others engage in friendly talks with their elderly guests. Some students voluntarily go on stage to sing a song. “Today is one of the most exciting days at Freefood! I like it when the young ones come and stay with us,” says one grandma smiling. At Freefood, volunteers rotate lunch duty, but many irregular volunteers also make appointments to visit.
At , the chief manager Lee Sun-bok starts his job by saying “Everyone, please go to your positions, we are now going to serve the dishes.” The volunteer group is again divided into three groups where one group lines up and collects the food, one group places the food on the dishes and the last group delivers the dishes to their guests.
While the meals are served, latecomers line up in front of the door. “Promise me that you won’t be drunk next time you come,” says Lee to one homeless person. Saying, “I’m sorry. I’ll just eat a little,” the man goes to his seat. “Many homeless people are drunk, so when they come here I try to talk to them like a big brother,” Lee says. At the same time, Park Tack-keun (
can enjoy their meals since I’ve prepared it with my heart,” says Park.
When volunteers pile up the empty dishes for washing and say goodbye and good health to the guests, the day has almost come to an end.
Freefood seems to be a lighthouse to many people, a place where they come when they get lost. When people find it, they find comfort, peace and happiness. With help from its volunteers, Freefood plans to continue to be a light and hope for people in hardship.
Reporter on the Scene offers real-life glimpses of people at work helping others who live on the margins of society.