Wed | Feb 1, 2023

Okello Soltau to celebrate 25th birthday feeding the homeless

Published:Friday | December 9, 2022 | 12:08 AMKrysta Anderson/Staff Reporter
Okello Soltau taking part in one of the initiatives to feed the homeless.
Okello Soltau taking part in one of the initiatives to feed the homeless.
Ashely Lewis (left), was all too happy to help Soltau in his Feeding of the Five Thousand efforts.
Ashely Lewis (left), was all too happy to help Soltau in his Feeding of the Five Thousand efforts.
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From as young as 10 years old, Okello Soltau recalls offering his time and services to help those in and around his community. His outreach efforts through his church saw him carrying on this tradition in the years that followed. So it is no surprise that his wish and goal for his 25th birthday is to feed the homeless in Kingston.

“I was born with a purpose to serve people and impact lives, without the thoughts of rewards or recognition,” he told The Gleaner.

Life, for young Soltau, was far from easy. Growing up, he had to figure out where the next meal was coming from. He was also left carrying the heavy load of wondering whether or not he could attend school. These worries certainly put a mental strain on his young mind. But he was able to find hope in the word of the Lord. “I was raised on the scripture in Jeremiah 29:11, which helps me from a young age to pull through life’s struggles,” he added.

He joined the Women of Frontline Ministry, where he became the resident chef for the soup kitchen before forming the Feeding of the Five Thousand Foundation. As a head cook and bottle washer, he played all the necessary roles to ensure that the organisation fulfilled its mandate of moulding young lives and transforming lives.

“Offering my time, service, and gifts voluntarily is what brings me joy and a sense of peace. Nothing is more important to me other than seeing my brothers and sisters smile. Impacting lives is what I am about, and these outreach activities allow me to be able to do so,” he shared.

In 2020, however, during the pandemic, when others had lost interest in helping others, Soltau realised that he wanted to do something on an individualistic level. “I knew my passion was never temporary or for fame and/or recognition, and so I never think twice on my thoughts of venturing on my own to continue impacting lives, one person at a time.”

His friends and extended family have been nothing but supportive in providing monetary assistance, transportation, food or even just moral support. “My mom would oftentimes stay on long calls with me, helping me to plan charity feeding initiatives,” he recounted. Noting the fact that someone has always thought about him and helped him throughout his lifetime, he decided to celebrate his birthday this year by paying it forward.

Instead of indulging in fine dining with friends and families who already knew where their meals were coming from, Soltau wanted to pool his resources and use them to celebrate his special day on the street with those who not only needed a meal but also needed a listening ear; someone, he says, to understand them.

“While the support is not coming in as quickly as expected, I am seeing where ‘one, one coco’ is filling the basket. Currently, I am seeking corporate assistance to help with gifting 25 families a complete grocery package for Christmas, and also additional meat sponsorship, to be better able to make the targeted 500 meals to distribute as substantial as possible,” the organiser shares.

His hope for his birthday, December 11, is to feed the homeless and less fortunate on one hand, but on the other, find out their reason for living on the streets, addressing those challenges through citizen and governmental support so that they can receive the assistance they so rightfully deserve.

“The vision behind this birthday feeding is not to feed and go home. But to feed, understand what they are going through, and begin the process of lobbying for them,” he asserted.

His list of donation items are rice, sugar, flour, butter, oil, pasta, chicken, fish fillet, mixed vegetables, water, juices, disposable plates, sanitary forks, and more. If you can assist with the silver anniversary efforts, please get in touch with Soltau at 876-238-9549 for more information.

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com