The Soup-erheroes of Canisibus

Barbara Baumgartner
Barbara Baumgartner 20/06/2024 3 minutes

Today marks my Social Active Day, a day that doesn't take place in front of the laptop as usual, but where one can actively engage socially. Since 2011, motivated colleagues from Austria and 20 other countries in our Group have been lending a hand and putting a smile on the faces of those in need. From a diverse range of options including nursing homes, homeless initiatives, and various care facilities, one selects a project and can contribute there. This year, I chose the Canisibus, an initiative by Caritas that has been providing warm soup daily to up to 400 individuals in need for the past 25 years. Full of anticipation, I also signed up my colleague Simon, who is equally curious about what awaits us.

The Kitchen Battle

In the late afternoon, we both find ourselves in the Caritas quarters in the 16th district, warmly welcomed and escorted downstairs to the kitchen. When I spot the oversized cooking pot, it dawns on me that I'll be cutting more vegetables today than I'm used to. Simon and I slip into white protective suits and put on hairnets. He takes his place with the onions – for which I'm very grateful – and I dedicate myself to the celery. Under the guidance of Chef Kaspar, who informs us that 70% of the products are funded by donations, a delicious soup gradually takes shape, which is ultimately filled into large containers to keep it warm until we transport it to the distribution points.

Now the real adventure begins. We're assigned to the route: Meidlinger Bahnhof-Hauptbahnhof-Karlsplatz-Westbahnhof. I'm a bit nervous about what to expect at these focal points. Simon and I take our seats on the bus and immediately strike up a nice conversation with the two volunteer helpers, Kathi and Matthias. Both are special educators by profession and have been on the Canisibus every Thursday until late at night for many years. I'm deeply impressed by their dedication because without the help of the approximately 150 volunteers who spend their free time without compensation, this project wouldn't be possible.

A Good Ride

We arrive at the first station of our tour and watch closely as Kathi and Matthias quickly set up the table and place soup and bread on it. Every move is precise, which is important because we're already expected. Around 30 individuals in need are punctually lined up for the soup distribution, patiently forming a human queue. I’m impressed by how orderly they behave and how kindly they all thank us when they receive their meal. Today, there's also chocolate that I get to distribute, and each time, I secure another smile because everyone is delighted about it. A warm feeling wells up inside me, it makes me happy to bring a little joy to others – especially those who don't have much to smile about otherwise. By the time we reach Westbahnhof, it's bitterly cold and already 10:00 p.m. It's now that I truly appreciate how grateful I am to have a warm home.

As we bid farewell to Kathi and Matthias later on, we agree that this won't be our last mission with them. I have great respect for these superheroes who spend their time week after week to help others. I can wholeheartedly recommend a ride on the Canisibus to support this important intitiative.

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