Tonight I have no place to sleep, no house, no home, no bed, no sheets. But this is life for me, so I walk these streets. It’s rough out here but I make it because honestly speaking I don’t have a choice. I could complain all day but in this big world I don’t have a voice. I’ve learned to accept my surroundings and in a way I think I’ve found comfort. When I rest my head on the park bench at night I pray that no one troubles me. My safety is in danger but I really need to sleep so I take the chance eventually. I could be in the shelter, there’s no shame in my game. But after proving my existence and justifying my visit I no longer have a name. I’m a number in the system and they’re investigating my claim.
I’m living for a reason I haven’t quite figured out what it is, but I know this situation is bigger than me. I don’t have money but I find food, I needed some clothes so I stole, and I was going to kill myself because my heart got cold. Yet in the midst of it all I believe that one day it will all get better. At least that’s what I was told…they said God’s got a hold on my soul. I want to breakdown but I don’t because when I feel like I can’t go anymore something carries me. And although I’ve lost everything else the one thing I cannot get rid of is my faith.
On September 21 Global citizen year sent the fellows out into the Tenderloin section of San Francisco with a mission to carry out. Survive on five dollars for the day and talk to strangers so that you can learn their stories. I remember that day the people that I came into contact with were all homeless at that time. Each had a story that led up to the present, and each handled their situations differently. One resorted to drugs, the other to stealing, and the next almost committed suicide. Honestly speaking, on that day I felt stoic. I did not allow myself to pity those individuals and I did not try to comfort them. Why was I that way, I’m not sure. Maybe it was because I’d seen homeless people plenty of times at home in New York. Or maybe it was because I myself had been homeless before and no one took the time to get to know my story. The one thing that intrigued me the most out of the entire day though, was the fact that despite what they were experiencing each man had faith that God was there to help them. Even in a messed up situation they saw an even better ending.
I sat on a wall with my legs propped up at Goree Island off the coast of Dakar, and I had the most amazing time overlooking the ocean. Goree Island was a slave port many years ago, where slaves were confined and traded. Where I sat was right above the rooms that held hundreds of slaves and yet I was at peace. The professor that told us the history of the island had said that slaves would sing to uplift themselves. They used their soul to support their body. I imagined what it must have been like for them to be chained to one another in rooms that were too small to hold the large quantities of them. What it must have sounded like to hear them sing in unison in their African dialects. Singing of a better future, of freedom, and receiving help from god. And I experienced déjà vu as I again became intrigued by the idea of faith.
How was it that in a person’s state of rock bottom they were able to remain full of faith? What was it that assured them that the future would be better?
Now when I think of the current state of underprivileged people I wonder what is it that gives them hope that one day they will be privileged. Does the developing world have faith in the developed world? And am I, as a Global Citizen, a part of that faith?