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Homelessness is a disease, that is epidemic

Looking around us whether your in your community, state or somewhere in the world travelling, there are homeless people around us but it is hardly recognised and talked about.

By i.c Golina

From my last post, I wrote about my friends that helped out in a homeless charity organisation in New York. They spent 5 hours of their time contributing to the community. This is how I witness the issue of homelessness in New York. However, this time, I decided to take on a different perspective and spend few minutes of my time talking with homeless people around the globe.

 

“The greatest cruelty is our casual blindness to the despair of others” – unknown

Homeless person sleeping in Townsville, Australia

My journey into this world of homelessness took me across many countries which has given me a rare insight into this deep dark forgotten world, where they call their homes have no street names. There is a deep and dark side to it where no-one has heard of. For me, taking this journey into this world of homeless individuals, I decided to explore how these homeless individuals deal with their day-to-day life, how society treats them and the support they get from each other as a community throughout various Countries in the world. I brought myself down to their level to engage with them to fully understand their world. I wasn’t surprise that most of the homeless people that I spoke to in many different cities throughout the world, they have shared very similar stories. It was profoundly shocking and heartbreaking to know that this is a major problem globally and it has sadden me so deeply. Wherever we are, whether we are at home or in a hotel room somewhere enjoying the comfortable environment around us, we never have a second thought on daily basis what we are going to eat or where we are going to sleep that night but for homeless people it is a constant struggle.

Homeless people living it rough near a creek in Cairns, Australia

As a child growing up in a third world country in Papua New Guinea where basic services were non-existence, it was a constant struggle for me and my families that I grew up with. When I see the news and the catastrophic events that occur on our planet, I’m reminded of the darkest hours of my history. When I see people that are decimated by stupidity, ignorance, greed and power I am filled with this chronic anger towards the injustice society we live in. How can we make this world a better place? Growing up has a child in a Christian environment, it has profoundly had some great influence or impact on my outlook on life and certainly define most of my decisions that I make – my values and core beliefs. With these, my journey has enabled me to become the person I could be and this has prompt me to write about homelessness which I am very passionate about. All I can say, at long last, I’m interested in sharing my journey in witnessing some of the cruelty towards homelessness.

Homeless person sleeping in the Waikiki beach park

It was about 6pm in the evening, I was lying comfortably in my 30th floor hotel room in downtown San Francisco. I decided not to touch any of my social media gadgets that evening but was contemplating on what I was going to do for the night after a hectic day sight-seeing around San Francisco. When you’re alone, staying right in the heart of the big city where millions things are happening at the same time at night time, your choice of what to do becomes endless. I was thinking to myself which restaurant I was going to, depending on my appetite that very moment but I never thought twice about the cost.

Like most majority of the hotels/motels throughout the world, one of the book that is always placed inside the bedside draws or next to the telephone is the Bible. I decided to read few chapters and it was all familiar to me and reminded of my childhood days, growing up in a God-Fearing home. As I continued to read, turning pages after pages, chapter after chapter but at the same time thinking about this problem of Homelessness. I then begin to question myself, how do they survive from day to day. As I was just about to close my eyes, I came across this verse in the Bible which caught my attention, it states that: 

 

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves" - Proverbs 30:8

Homeless person camping along side one of the roads outside San Diego city centre

I thought to myself as I lay quietly in my hotel room, I may not make an instant change about this chronic issue on homelessness like most celebrities and entrepreneurs do but I can speak out through social media. This has prompt me to write about my passion on homelessness. To me, we must stick together to resist and not sink into despair like the big white whale which allows itself to be washed up on the beach. It takes wit and courage to make our way while our way is making us, with no consolation to count on but art the the summer lightning of personal happiness, but if nothing is certain everything is possible, and that’s what gives us our human dignity.

Each of our journeys is so personal and diverse, that I am sometimes amazed when our paths intertwine. I certainly did with this homeless people. To go and really understand their world, we as individual need to be real – to carry on a genuine conversation with them and to recognise their difference – their use of language, communication, behaviours views, understanding and so on but not about US and THEM factor. For me to gain their trust on me, I first need to recognise how they view the world through their lense, which had to come from them and not from me.

Homeless person awaits in Wellington, New Zealand

One of the interesting thing that struck me and kept coming up during my conversation with them was about- their day-to-day life. I found that their day to day life is filled with constant changes. Most homeless people change their priority of needs on daily basis and at times instantly without any prior thoughts. It may not be their overall priorities, but their circumstances have thrust a new wrinkle into their lives. They are flexible and have no predetermined agenda at all.

The most heartbreaking that I heard from them, that brought tears to my eyes was how they are treated by society. They feel that the society turns a blind eye on them and they don’t feel the love anymore. This is when they feel the world come down crashing down on them and certainly brings them right down to their knees.

Finally, it was very comforting to hear that, how they get their support was very inspiring for me. They almost share everything among each other – homeless people. It is a different world out there in the middle of the normal world as we see it. Apart from what they receive from the community charity organisations, they still take extra to their other homeless friends who could not make it due to illness, intoxicated, couldn’t make it on time or other reasonable reasons. They share very little things they have and I found them to be so kind, thoughtful and understanding to each other.

Homelessness has an impact on the society and it is a significant issue facing Australia and the world today which is been neglected. Homelessness is not just the result of too few houses. Its forms and causes are many and varied. It can affect anyone and has a wide variety of manifestations. 

Since 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the preamble states in article 25 and it quote:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control…….. (United Nations Human Rights.

This was a world that I had come in contact with in a very short space of time that I spent but what I have shared is just a brief insight of what they do for living and survival from day to day. I found that 99% of them were very welcoming, passionate and compassionate about many things. So, let there be perpetual Spring in our hearts, as we share with each other, and wend our way together along this patchwork path we call Life.

From personal perspective: Leave no-one behind: For people experiencing homelessness, face violations of a wide range of human rights. Human rights are for all people including woman, man, asylum-seekers and refugees, mental illness health persons, indigenous people, youth and children in all places and at all times. It is my belief and opinion that these basic human rights need to be made transparent to all people and the society we live in.

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