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Visit to the Homeless Shelter


            It is common to encounter homeless people while walking down the city street. I always associated these homeless people with crime, violence, drugs and other social ills. This was until I got an opportunity to have a close interaction with these people. I was an active member of the youth group in our religious organization. At the youth group, we used to conduct various activities that rendered service to the community. This time, the activity entailed visiting a shelter for the homeless so as we can provide the homeless people with inspiration and home. The date was set, and all preparations were made for this event. This one day event changed my view and attitude concerning the homeless.


          The day that we had eagerly awaited was finally here. I woke early in the morning as we were expected to congregate at our religious venue at 8.30 am before we make our way to the homeless shelter. I jumped into a bathroom, took a quick shower and picked out the best wears for the day.  It was a Saturday morning, and so I decided to dress casually. I picked out my blue jeans and dark T-shirt. I prepared and took my breakfast, and I was ready to leave. A five minutes’ walk separated my home with the religious premises. I left the house at 8.20 in order to allow sufficient time to get to our religious premises. It was a bright Saturday morning. The sun had just woken; casting rays of light over the path. It was the perfect weather for the day’s activities.


             I arrived at the religious premises in time. A few other members of the group had arrived earlier. Everybody looked stunning and eager for the activities we were about to undertake. At 8.30, everybody had arrived, and thus, we made final arrangement and boarded the bus heading to the homeless shelters. The distance from our religious premises to the homeless shelter was approximately 30 minutes drive. Everyone in the bus seemed exited. We sung and exchanged jokes all the way to the shelter.  I thought the atmosphere in the bus was electrifying, but this was before we arrived at the shelter. Our excitement was nothing compared to the excitement in the young children that we found at the shelter. It appeared as if they had eagerly anticipated our arrival. We found the children waiting for us at the gate of the premise. The atmosphere was filled with a buzzing sound of laughter, screams and shout of joy. The welcoming atmosphere was encouraging.


             Our group met the director of the home, on arrival to the shelter, who ushered us into the shelter. She introduced us to the members of the shelter and explained the objective of our visit. She handed over the activities of the day to the group, and it was time to get down to business. We had a lot in store for the people housed in this shelter. We had planned various activities for different category of people. Some activity entailed listening to the experiences of some of the people and encouraging them, caring for the sick and providing basic advice and basic training that would help these individuals become self sufficient. We had also carried a lot of food staff and clothing to be distributed to the people. My task was to talk to adults who have been recently admitted into the center, listen to their experiences just to show them that there is someone who is concerned with their problem and life experiences. I was also expected to provide encouragement to these people as to assist them to get over their despair.  


              The task looked difficult at first. Unlike the children, who were extremely excited with what was taking place, the adult seemed extremely disconnected. At first, I did not understand why they appeared disengaged to the activities that were taking place around them. I decided to approach one person at a time. I first personal encounter was with a woman. At first she appeared unapproachable. She was shabbily dressed. She wore a black court, jean trousers and unkempt hair. She sat alone in one of the corners. I went over and introduced myself. At first, she did not say much. I asked her general questions about her life in order to encourage her to open up. After a while, she became confident and began to freely share her experiences. She was a middle aged woman between the age 35 and 40 years. She informed me that she was the center because she left her home in order to escape an abusive relationship. The woman was married for over 10 years, and was suffering in silence. Her violent husband kept on abusing her over years and she hoped that it would come to a stop. “I have experienced enough suffering and abuses, and this is why I am here” the woman said. She left the husband and came to the shelter together with her two children. I could feel the anger and despair in her voice as she narrated her ordeals. I couldn’t help but imagine what he felt at that moment. I did what I thought could bring encouragement and hope to her situation.


I moved on to other people, who also shared their experiences, one after the other. I realized that everyone person was facing a difficult situation and that it is these situations that had made them homeless. Hearing the experiences of these individuals changed my attitude towards the homeless. I no longer associated this people with crime and social vises, but regard them as individuals who are in urgent need of our assistance and support.  I realize that many individuals hold stereotypes and prejudices against homeless people because they do not understand these people.


 

 
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