Easy life on the street?
What makes someone prefer to be on the street than at home or even in a shelter?
“They want the easy life”, some people who turn up their noses at the homeless say, as we heard recently from the first lady of São Paulo, in a video that went viral. But how easy is it to be totally exposed and vulnerable?
This judgment is even more emphatic when those who think this way see people sleeping on the street during the day. “Bums”, many think. But they don’t consider that without a safe place to sleep, you can’t rest when the fear of being robbed, stabbed, or burned alive at night is not an exaggeration but a real concern.
Under an overpass, in central São Paulo, a group of homeless people takes shelter. As a way to serve and alleviate this situation, we do cleaning efforts. Last week, when attending to the group that was there, we discovered that many of them had scabies. We bought their medication, cleaned the place, changed their blankets and clothes.
“I am tired. I used drugs all night to make the pain go away.” That’s not comfort. The boys tell us that they don’t like hospitals because they are often mistreated when they seek help alone. Some even report being tied up when they were hospitalized.
When the system itself seems to do everything to end your existence because it doesn’t see you as a citizen but as a problem, who do you turn to?
This is where we seek to place ourselves: as a safe place, with people who want to be close to them in times of need and also in times of joy. Be people up close.
We live with a lack of mercy in this world. The practice of empathy, such a trendy word on social media, is still lacking.
We want to be those who see these “zombies” for what they really are: people with stories we don’t know individually, but whose ending God wants to change for the better.
We heard from a kid recently that she considers herself trash. And it is quite clear that this thought is not the result of a fertile imagination, but a reflection of the treatment given to her constantly. Invisibility, fear, and aggression are responsible for this. And it is precisely this thought that we want to change.
As Edmund Burke said, “For evil to triumph, it is enough for good people to do nothing”. Therefore, we need to be light in this world. Each of these people is precious to God. And they must be for us too.
When we publish on social media about the situation of children on the street, we receive not only comments asking what to do, but also people who say they are already following ABBA’s work, outraged at the reality of children on the street that they did not know about. Many people soon want to mobilize, militate, and awaken society or the authorities. This all has value and place, but not before a commitment of empathy that puts itself on the side of these people, becoming people up close. So, here’s an invitation to take the first step: get to know ABBA’s work and get involved!