A cold, wet, February night in Canada for #LongestNightPeel made me appreciate what #homelessness means and what the homeless go through, physically and emotionally, every day, every night.
Sleeping in the car, there was loneliness, it was cold, it was wet, there was limited space, there were lights flashing from outside and passers by were peeping in. And it might as well have been dangerous too if we did not have 5 cars parked next to each other.
We are blessed we all had warm homes awaiting us, loved ones praying for us, friends sending text messages for strength and family eager for us to come back safe in the morning.
Lone homeless humans who sleep in cars or huddle in sleeping bags in public spaces, on pavements don’t have that luxury of accompanied cars for company or for safety. And they are pushed from parking lot to parking lot by security guards as it is against the bylaws to park your car after hours or to sleep in public places.
They don’t even have loved ones praying for them or concerned for them, and there are no warm human arms or hearts or beds to return to.
As I lay there, the clocks slowed down, giving an endless opportunity to ponder on the mysteries of creation, on how equal opportunities remains just a good idea and the burning question on why Father Fortune favors some and not some others? It brought home the power of phrases, “to be in others shoes” and “how blessed we are”.
It was an experience of a life time. Now, every day as I will sleep in the warmth of my bed, it will have a different meaning. Gandhi’s words,“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” will haunt even more.
Thanks to United Way of Peel Region family that gave me this opportunity to experience what is hard to imagine otherwise.
With more power to the kind hearts who strive beyond petty divides of borders, beliefs, skin color, ethnicity etc for a just, safe and inclusive world, I salute you all.
Some hard stats on poverty and homelessness in Peel:
There is acute shortage of shelters for the homeless in Peel Region, Ontario, Canada. 450 youth are refused a bed each year. In order to raise awareness against homelessness, to ask for more government support to shelters, to push for policies that alleviate poverty, develop affordable housing and to raise funds to support programs for the homeless, United Way of Peel Region organized #LongestNightPeel Initiative. Sixty community members slept in their cars on February 19, 2016 and have so far raised over $51,000, while the funds are still being collected.
Peel Community is compassionate and generous, they heard our appeal.
With yet another step towards a diverse yet inclusive Peel…
I end with a quote from Gandhi:
“Whenever you are in doubt or when the self becomes too much with you, try the following experiment: Recall the face of the poorest and most helpless person you have ever seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be for any use to him or to her … Then you will find your doubts and your self melting away.”