I walk forward, feeling eyes like laser beams following my every move. I see a few of the figures exchange words, with their guarded stares. I feel out of place, unwelcome and uninvited. I enter the elevator with the sick feeling of uneasiness. The small elevator is packed to the brim with homeless people. I uncomfortably mumble a greeting, and we get through half of the ride with no incident until something unexpected happens.
The entire group started laughing. They cried out in fits of giggles “We don’t bite, boy” and “Don’t you wear the worried face.” With the tension in the air broken, I was able to relax. You see, I was volunteering at a homeless shelter, and I was terrified. I met a good deal of these people facing homelessness and made some new friends. One told me about how he lost his house trying to support his ill mother. Another told me how her husband had left her, and she couldn’t afford to support her children anymore, so they went to live with their aunt.
Something I had never contemplated before. Homeless people aren’t always homeless because of bad decisions they make. Many of them suffer unfortunate situations that led them to be homeless. They truly are people, just like us, and we shouldn’t treat them as any less.
The issue of supporting the less-fortunate is one of utmost importance to me. This lesson was taught to me by kind-hearted and genuine people who face unfortunate circumstances.