Every Friday, I walked past the trestle tables of bakery goods, drinks and a large pot of soup and didn't pay much attention.
It was all part of the scenery in the busy city Centre, which over time becomes a blur.
One day I noticed through the crowds of people milling around the tables, a tiny woman ladling soup into cups. You could barely see her over the extremely large pot of soup.
Who was she, I wondered.
I became very curious and I started to pay more attention when I would walk by, deliberately slowing down to catch sight of her. She was there every Friday and seemed very feisty and opinionated.
One day I decided to stop and speak to her.
I soon realised that if you hang round this lady for even a few seconds she will either put you to work or make you try her soup.
Stasia Dabrowski doesn’t think there is anything special about what she does. She is 84 years old and for the last 28 years she has been feeding the hungry and disadvantaged every Friday in the city centre.
She helped her son start the Soup Kitchen after he beat his heroin addiction and then after he went to Europe to live she just kept it going.
She gets up at 4am on Fridays to chop and peel 150kg of vegetables to make the “best soup in the world”. She uses a lot of her own money to do so.
“It’s just veges, veges, veges”, she said “because meat is poison. Go to Europe and you will find out, animals eat grass for their own energy and you eat what is left of it”.
This lady is one of life's characters.
Stasia was born in the southern mountains of Poland in 1926. During the occupation of Poland in WWII her family's lives were devastated — she lost everything and was driven into forced labour. After WWII she worked as a nurse and matron before moving to Australia with her husband and young family.
As her qualifications were not recognised in Australia she did voluntary house cleaning and emergency services for the Red Cross, looking after the bedridden and needy. She started cooking and providing essentials for the needy in the late 1970s, the start of the Soup Kitchen.
When I asked her why she does it, week after week, she said, “You don’t do it because you enjoy it, it’s because it’s your responsibility. You are doing what is right. Enjoyment is not enough”.
“People have forgotten their responsibility that’s why we have so many problems today,” she said gesturing around.
“They don’t understand, death, caring and compassion.
“You must love one another, help one another, never judging. If you know right from wrong, put it into practice.”
It’s simple, isn’t it?
Sometimes it’s worth opening your eyes to the lessons that are right there in front of you.
But like I did for years, so often we just walk on by.
Have a beautiful Wednesday everyone. And A BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my baby sister Anne-Maree!