Monday, August 31, 2009

The Photo Meditation of the Month (August, 2009): HOMELESSNESS


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Homelessness

A homeless woman, with all her belongings, made her den
at the intersection of the posh Bay Street and Edward Street
in Toronto for the last few months

Photo (Toronto: August 17 , 2009) © Jerome D'Costa

When a lot of us have a roof over our head, a cozy or ordinary bed to sleep on, there are millions in this world who are homeless. They don't have a place or shelter they can call their own.

They are either sleeping on sidewalks under open sky, subject to the whims of the Nature -- sun, rain, snow or wind -- or in a crammy nook or edge of a building, or in a wretched slum.

Today one can be a proud owner of a home, the very next day a miserable homeless. Homelessness is caused in different ways. Natural disasters make many bereft of their homes, joblessness affects others. Death of the only earning member of the family also takes others to the streets or slums. Physical or mental illness forces others to the footpaths. Migration to a new and unknown place can also play a role for some in being homeless. Prodigality is another cause of this situation. Lastly, others become homeless by losing their lands and abodes to the unscrupulous and cunning usurpers.

Jesus Christ, at the time of his birth, was also homeless in a far and strange place -- Bethlehem. His family was forced to take shelter in a cowshed where he was born in a manger. Soon after, to avoid the child-genocide of maniacal King Herod, his family had to flee their home and take shelter in Egypt for a time.

In Bangladesh, I had the occasions to encounter many homeless persons who took shelter in the slums of Dhaka city. I found a good number of them who had everything in the rural areas -- landed property, homes, and other possessions -- more than many middle-class job-holders in Dhaka. In a day or two, they lost everything in the dangerous annual river erosion during the rainy season. Strong currents of rivers, coupled with rains, took away everything under the water. These hapless people then had to move to cities and towns, like Dhaka, in search of jobs -- not so easily available. Many of them, who used to employ others as labourers in their agricultural fields, ultimately had to resort to being rickshaw-pullers, construction and other types of labourers, street vendors, and the like.

Homelessness is not a chosen 'profession'. Circumstances make people homeless. We should not look down upon homeless people, hate them or avoid them. We should empathize with them and try to help them in any way possible.



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