Since I volunteered last year on Christmas Eve to give some Christmas cheer to the homeless of Brixton, London, I have received more life wisdom. It was an eye-opener and to be honest,I never thought it would be such an eye-opener. We distributed the Christmas bags in less than two hours, barely talked to anyone and went home with the sun in our hearts.
Since then, I wrote an article on it in my new position at an East London newspaper as a human rights/humanist journalist or so I should call myself. My article was a hit and my boss loved it! It made me proud. Then, I wrote another one, more recently on Mary J. Blige’s homeless misfortune in 2017, following her devastating divorce. It also received great feedback.
And now, I currently read “Humans of New York: Stories,” being big fan of their work. In this book, there are so many interviews with homeless people. Moreover, I hear news of homeless people dying in London. I see them in the corners of streets and so, it makes me reflect on homelessness whenever I want to write an article. Then I reflected some more, who could ever think that Mary J. Blige could be homeless, a well known artist? No, no way. Impossible.
When I walk in the streets of London, I wonder when looking at homeless people, “I wonder what your story is…why are you in the streets?”
This is when I made up the terminology “social homelessness.” I don’t know if this terminology exists, but hey, this is the only way I could define my thoughts on homelessness.
According to me, we all suffer of “social homelessness” once in our lives, if so many times.I define “social homelessness” as a state of mind. It is when you lose everything you have built, deprived of what you call “home.” When you don’t feel you are at the right place or something is lacking. Remember that not only places are home, but people, countries, careers, passions and aspirations are home to our souls.One example is surely Mary J. Blige, who I believed suffered of “social homelessness” during her divorce. She built a home with a man she surely gave her all to, had kids with, moved to a comfortable home, had a group of friends that they both knew, a full network of people built around her marriage and so on.
However, it all went down the plug hole as they decided to break their home when going through divorce. She revealed that she was thrown out of the home she once adored, built on the foundation of her love, on the warmth of her family and so she lost her dignity as a human when she was. So, she went to live at her friends home for a year until she felt capable to rebuild her inner home, herself.
Consequently, she was, I believe, socially homeless.
A divorce, a death of a person who felt like home, a loss of a cherished job, lacking a sense of comfort could make us feel homeless.
I believe that homelessness is a state of mind because I am pretty sure that before those people we see on the streets became homeless, they first lost something within themselves, something that did not allow them to jump back on their feet. They lost a sense of dignity, a sense of humanness, a sense of being like me and you, and somehow they found themselves on the streets.
I heard wonderful stories of people who turned their lives around and decided within themselves that they will be off the streets. Therefore, I always think that helping people to not give up on their lives, to always fight, talk to them, give them back this dignity they all deserve, tell them that we are just about the same, is primordial. It will surely save a soul, bring it strength and can turn a life around. We should all adopt this “we are all on the same boat, we just sail it differently” kind of attitude. We all experience social homelessness, we should be able to understand each other on a humanistic point of you and we all owe to do our bit.
Do you think that a man going from one women’s arm to another is not looking for a home to lay his head for good? Surely, because somehow at some moment in his life, he has been deprived of this home and is searching for it. Not all men are born cheaters, some are good, they are just broken. Same for those young people in gangs who testify that in the streets they found a family. Because the streets take them as they are.
And same for homeless people I have observed during my volunteering. I was mesmerised to see them informing each other on where to find us if they needed a bag or warm food. It seemed like a whole “street” institution. They truly help each other. Or again this man who preferred to sleep in the streets because no shelter accepted his dog. His dog is his comfort, his dog is his home. Some people just find more comfort outside in the streets because they lack love, warmth on the inside. To be able to move people from our streets, to help people to transform their lives we must understand that homelessness starts socially; it is a state of mind before becoming physical. If we want people to start working, to get off our streets, we need to restore their humanity, their dignity.
It is the society, our humanity, that makes us homeless, that pushes us to find homes where we should not.
Because actually every human being is in need of a home because home, no matter what we call it our home is where the heart is.
Author: Gassy Traore
Author Bio: I am Humanist, a Human Writer/Righter and a Soul Researcher.