"Why can't street kids just get a job?"
I used to ask myself the same question, among others, along with a feeling of judgment and "I'm-going-to-pretend-I-don't-see-them-damn-now-I-feel-bad" every time I walked passed someone on the street. Until one day I came across a poster that read: Daddy's little girl every night, or live on the streets.
And it hit me.
Everyone has a story.
The judgment subsided and since then, was replaced with an overwhelming feeling of wonder and concern. And yes, everyone has choices, but sometimes the choice is between the lesser of two evils. I was asked once why I like to help people I don't know. And the reason is this: I believe that, as a human race, we were meant to co-exist. I don't think we were meant to be divided the way we are -- by race, by class, by gender, sexual orientation, physical attributes. We were meant to help each other out and be compassionate.
Survival of the fittest is a lazy excuse to be selfish and to not care (Sorry, Darwin). Yes, I understand we all work hard for our money, but the truth is, someone out there has not been as fortunate as you, to have the same options as you did. The fact that you're reading this on a technological device is evidence of that. I'm not here to make you feel bad or to place judgment on you because I'm sure you have a story too -- I'm just here to give you a different perspective.
And so is this poster:
It's quite a bit to read (for obvious reasons) so let me to summarize it for you:
Imagine being a street kid for a second. You can't always just go home. Every day is a survival. Finding food and shelter is your job. We'll call you Steve. Steve starts his day in a public park. Waking up to a few items of clothing and people harassing him to leave. He spends the next couple hours finding an alleyway to get some peace. There, he lays his head and remembers his life before this. He can still feel his father's fists and hear his mother's screams. His mind is blurred from the lack of food from the past couple days. On some days he can rustle up enough money for food but he can't remember the last time he didn't pay all in change. He sees a "Help Wanted" sign. Steve takes a deep breath, walks in and heads straight for the cashier. But all he receives are insults. The owner tells Steve he sees him on the street every day. He tells him his clothes are a mess and that he smells, and must have been insane to think anyone would hire a stupid, lazy homeless kid...
Everything is an obstacle. Every time you beg for change, every time you go to the bathroom, every time you want to sleep, eat or drink -- nothing comes easy.
We could all use a hand. Giving back and sharing is easy, and it takes only a few minutes, but it could change someone's day. Something simple like:
- Stopping by a nearby coffee shop and picking up a sandwich to give to someone on the street
- Volunteering at a shelter (this one will probably take longer than a few minutes...)
- Donating clothing
- Offering someone a seat on the bus who looks like they've had a long day