Packaged meals come full circle for refugee in Charlotte
- COURTESY OF THE REV. TALBOT DAVISAlmost 2,600 people spent a recent Sunday morning at Good Shepherd Church in Steele Creek packing meals of dried food, which will be delivered to people in other countries who are hungry.
Matt Crace – COURTESY OF MATT CRACEFood packed at Good Shepherd Church in March will be sent overseas to people who are hungry.
- COURTESY OF JEROLINE PEAHJeroline Peah once benefited from the meals she now helps prepare for people in need.
The family of eight lived in what amounted to a storage unit, and occasionally they’d get a few meals of packaged dried food such as rice and beans.
“It was really helpful,” Peah said.Now a young adult, Peah, 26, has lived in the United States for about 12 years since her family received asylum. She settled in Charlotte, where a cousin lives, and began attending Good Shepherd Church in Steele Creek about a year ago.
At the end of March, Peah joined about 2,600 people at the church to help pack more than 250,000 meals of dried food to be sent overseas.She found a place in an assembly line in the church’s worship center, and soon the Rev. Talbot Davis announced that the food would be shipped overseas to help people who were hungry.
“I thought, ‘This is how it happened,’ ” Peah said. “ ‘This is how I got food and how I was able to eat.’ ”She got so excited that she began to jump up and down. The meals she was packing were the same types of meals that had helped her family survive.
Peah ended up walking out to the parking lot after her volunteer shift with Davis, who annually leads Good Shepherd Church in a large-scale “Radical Impact Project” like the meal-packing event in March.
She told Davis her story.Davis described the moment as a “heart stopper.”“It put a face on the masses of meals and throngs of people,” Davis said. “She knew the full-circled-ness, and she was glad to do for someone else what someone had done for her.”
So many people showed up on March 30 to pack meals at Good Shepherd Church that some waited in a line outside the door for an open spot on the meal-packing line.
Peah said as she volunteered her mind wandered to who might receive the meals Good Shepherd was assembling.In Mali, her family had to stretch a bag of rice or a few packed meals as long as possible. When a truck finally arrived to deliver meals, they were thankful that someone had taken the time to assemble the meal and send them, Peah said.She said sometimes the family rationed the food between the eight of them, and other times they took it into a nearby village to trade for much-needed items such as soap or milk.
Peah was thrilled to help with a project that could benefit other refugees, who she said will wake up in the morning knowing they have food to eat that day.
“This will probably be someone else just like me 10 years down the road, doing the same thing I’m doing right now,” Peah said about packing the food. “It was a wonderful experience, and I would do it over and over again if I could.”