“We have come dangerously close to accepting the homeless situation as a problem that we just can’t solve.”
No better quote to make yourself question why social inequality has seemingly become a fact that we just accept and refuse to stand up for. How many people living on the streets are there in your city? Any idea? How is it fair for them not to have their bare necessities covered? In which world is their situation just?
Not mine. Not yours. Not ours.
We are a group of students from Aveiro, Portugal who felt that they have seen enough. Last week we decided to do something about the situation and organised a kind of “street theatre” to raise awareness for the homeless situation. Together, among the school community, we formed a group of socially aware students who were eager to volunteer to help this cause.
The project took to the streets where about thirty of us performed our duty as citizens. The evening was filled with heart-aching, soul-touching music performed by some of the students. This set a strained environment while some of the others embodied the role of homeless people and the rest built a “human wall” where everyone had cardboards with illustrative pictures and quotes hanging from their necks.
All of this created a captivating moment that attracted passers-by, making them stop and let themselves be enveloped by the surrounding environment, forcing them to reflect on this social injustice.
The response of the “public” exceeded our expectations. Many people approached us to comment that they were touched by our selfless act. What was more, and what really moved us, were two people who shared their life stories with us. One of them was a woman who had moved from country to country in hope to find a better life and a job that lasted for more than a week. She was now in Portugal, where though she felt at home, she was unemployed for the last three years, resulting in living in complete poverty. The emotion was running so high that she couldn’t contain the tears, ultimately letting herself be comforted by the warm embrace of a student, a human, an equal in all senses of the word.
If I have to sum up the volunteering experience, I wouldn’t say we volunteered for someone, it was more an act of justice to the victims of such a horrible crime, which is poverty.