From Twitter to Social Action
RETWEET A MEAL
Skopje | Macedonia
Since we entered Skopje, the initiative we heard the most about was Retweet a Meal, a voluntary, informal project started on Twitter.
It started with one tweet – says Ana Golejshka, one of the initiators. My friend started to wonder on twitter why we take so many pictures of our food and after that we throw it away. Shouldn’t we give it to people in need? Why don’t we gather in our kitchens and cook for them? That’s how it started. After 1,5 year we have 20 people who cook together every Friday and Saturdays go to the Memorial House of Mother Teresa to give food to poor people.
We had a chance to participate in one of their cooking Friday. Everything is based on donation. They don’t accept money, so people give food; they receive donations from individual people as well as big organizations and restaurants, like for example FR3SH4S. It may also happen that after some event, e.g. at an embassy, they receive what’s left from the catering.
Every Friday we prepare food in a church classroom or at the Youth Education Forum office, which open their kitchens for us. It happens quite often that we have some food left over after an event at an embassy, things like mascarpone or blue cheese and… this is too expensive and far from Macedonian cuisine to give it to poor people. They will think that the cheese is spoiled. So we decided to rearrange it, make it less rich and acceptable for the people who are going to eat it. We did pasta with blue cheese. We tried to make something which will remind them of home, of Macedonian traditional food.
When we went to help, all volunteers were divided into two groups. Our, the smaller group, cooked pasta with Ragú (Bolognese), while the other prepared a traditional Macedonian vegetable stew. Each meal also contains additional bread and fruit or small sweets. It’s probably the best meal poor people receive during the week. They are supported by the Red Cross during weekdays, but not during the weekend. Thanks to volunteer’s work and donations, they now receive their meal on Saturdays. Retweet a Meal’s next goal is to double the amount of food so they can prepare two meals per person, one also for Sunday. Another challenge is finding a proper place for them to eat.
We need a physical space like a kitchen and some tables with chairs where they can sit and decently eat. Next thing to achieve is a change in the law which will foster food saving from supermarkets and restaurants and redistributing it between people in need. We would also love to have more tools to teach those people how to “catch the fish”, not only eat it. It’s very hard. In Macedonia, a little country, people are ashamed to admit they are homeless. We tried a couple of times to talk to some of them, to give them recognition, they will be the voice of all people without food or people who live in difficult conditions but they don’t want to talk. For those people it’s really a struggle. We’ve seen people who lose their jobs, they were part of factories which were closed. And after that they lost everything. We need more people to change it, social workers, psychologists, we cannot be ignorant or not be aware of what they are going through.
To achieve their goals and make their work more effective Retweet a Meal collaborates with an organization called Kindness, which has experience in working with poor people. They know exactly what is the situation of poor and homeless people and ensure that those who need it the most will receive the food.
Retweet a Meal has a double goal: to make people more aware about what is going on with food but they also put their attention into poor and homeless citizens. Today more than 20 people come every Friday to cook, but many more support the action by donating food, cooking by themselves and bringing it Saturday or just simply spreading the word. Although most of the volunteers didn’t know each other before, they work together, smoothly solving all problems and building strong relations with each other. Cooking is also time for them to make friends, feel more useful, fulfill their own needs. The atmosphere they created is amazingly open and warm, it’s a pity we cannot join them more often. But maybe you can?
Thank to all volunteers who shared with us their experience with Retweet a Meal.
More information about Retweet a Meal: www.facebook.com/groups/761014504020194