Help the Homeless
Anand Y Joshi
President of NHSF Buckinghamshire New University Hindu Society
To make my position absolutely clear, this article is not to make you feel downcast, it just to raise awareness and not to judge a book by its cover and also how we can try our best to help the homeless around our communities.
What does it mean to be homeless? I can first and foremost admit that I don’t appreciate the understanding of the term and I almost can guarantee you that the majority of you reading this article can also admit that they don’t know those hardships either. We can simply define them as people who do not have a known place to go to every night that they can call home but that begs the question that airline pilots are homeless as well, as they don’t get to stay in a stable home day in day out.
Here at Buckinghamshire New University Hindu Society we have been undertaking several Sewa related activities during our first year as part of our organisation the National Hindu Students Forum (UK) and we have gained innumerable memories from these activities, but one which is always at the forefront of my mind and one which was the most powerful and painful was our “Christmas Sewa” event we did in Winter 2014.
Along with support and passion of the committee and members we undertook the Help the Homeless Campaign, and decided to set out to Uxbridge and High Wycombe High Streets at night to give sandwiches, non-perishable items and hot tea. Our first night was at Uxbridge High Street, we set out ready with our food to give to those people we’d seen countless times. We were left shocked and dismayed however as we couldn’t find any homeless people to give food to. Upon reflection of that thought, that we were ‘shocked and disappointed we couldn’t find homeless people’ – we pondered whether it was a waste of time to go to Uxbridge High Street on that particular night? No it was not, although we didn’t get to help others, we still faced a happy feeling that there were no homeless people to help that night. Because that night, those that normally camped out on Uxbridge High Street had a place to sleep, and that’s everything we want.
We moved on to visited High Wycombe High Street, but this time we were not fortunate enough to find that happy feeling this time round. To an extent it was, however, a good feeling giving back to the community and helping the homeless on Wycombe’s streets. What I felt that night during our Sewa was painful and heart-breaking; we saw teenagers who looked younger than ourselves who were homeless and living on the streets and under tunnels.
For us, we are fortunate enough to go home in the evening, our automatic instinct is to just flick a switch and instantly get light. Those on the streets without a home, have to wait in the freezing weather up to 15 hours until they can “flick the switch” and light comes for them. In the morning we casually decide what clothes to wear that day, those homeless people sometimes only have got one pair of clothes they wear day in and day out.
When our phone runs out of battery, we can act like it’s the end of the world and our lives are automatically put on hold until we run to a plug socket and we sit, kneel or stand until it charges to enough amount, the only social media a homeless person has is perhaps an old newspaper which is probably two to three weeks old, to socialize they may talk to themselves to at least make their day pass by quicker.
Anyone can put money into a homeless persons hat but next time you do that, stop and ask them how they are doing, talk about the weather, talk about recent news, talk to them about anything, so they feel they are wanted within yours and their community.
I see charity shops on the high street where ever I go but never once have I seen anyone of them employees come out and help the homeless person sitting right outside of the high street they work at. Is that fair? You be the judge.
‘There is a lot that happens around the world we cannot control. We cannot stop earthquakes, we cannot prevent droughts, and we cannot prevent all conflict, but when we know where the hungry, the homeless and the sick exist, then we can help.’
– Jan Schakowsky