Homeless: I used to be your neighbor

The Homeless

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By Katelyn Ohashi

Homeless people… Do you ever wonder how they ended up there? Have you stopped to ask? Or maybe you do not pay them any mind at all; but do you know how many people have judged them based off of the first thing they see? Maybe you were one to judge them. Do you know how many people truly believe that a homeless person could get a job, over someone else that has clean clothes and a home to live in, if they wanted?

I used to be against giving money to homeless people because I would rather give them food. But then one of my friends explained to me that during a church service, the priest pointed out that what they spend their money on is what gives them happiness. Homeless people are left with nothing– no bed to sleep on, no family to return to after their day is over, and no feeling of privacy or protection– so sometimes in order to accept, or maybe not even accept but to survive the streets they need that money to give them just enough happiness to get by. 

Recently I watched a TedTalk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oyrdtsuz8H8) by Ericka Alston, a recovered crack cocaine addict. No one told her it was possible to truly live without drugs, instead they hid their money and walked a little faster in order to avoid her. The biggest message that I received during her presentation is that the people with these addictions are not all helpless and hopeless causes. All of them were once people living lives just like us. Some of them simply aren’t given the tools to know that they can choose a separate path in life towards progress. 

If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that nothing really ever goes as planned. Everyone has a story and a valuable lesson to learn from. You could learn just as much from a successful person as you could from a homeless person. If they are surviving off of the bare minimum you know they have at least enough smarts to get by. So, anyways, I have been wanting to make friends with a homeless person for a little while now and really listen to their story. A few weeks ago, I brought my car around to help a women out with some food and as I was walking away she started sharing her story with me. That night I sat down next to her on the cold sidewalk to hear what she had to say, as people walked by with looks of confusion and disgust, wondering what a girl like me was doing sitting next to “people like them”.

Guess what? She was gang raped and drugged, by people she knew and trusted. She woke up on the hard pavement with her face against bricks and her bag nowhere to be found. Her pantyhose were ripped and the bottom of her pants were worn down from rubbing against the ground. She was so drugged she didn’t remember it, but she woke up to it. They glued her hair and to this day she still hides it. Both of her parents are dead, one sister had committed suicide and the other has a successful business in Rhode Island. She still cannot bare to tell her sister what has happened to her, so here she lives struggling to get by.

She gives all her praise to God for surviving all of the things that she has endured while being homeless. She told me a story of her telling a man that if God could rise those from the living dead, then He could protect his little girl that was about to go through brain surgery. Along with this little girl, she too is thriving. They both are making the best out of the battles they were given.

This is just one of the many stories that are out there, but do you know how many people are quick to judge based off of what they first see? People are able to hide behind a lot of stuff, including a home in hopes of preserving an image they uphold, yet homeless people have no choice but to be exposed. Beyond this, our preconceived judgements can impact a person more than we believe. Does someone that does not have a home not deserve as much of a chance as we do? Do we not think there are reasons and explanations behind their situations that we are so quick to judge? But how many of us think to stop and ask?

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