Tuesday, February 19, 2013

To The World, From A Shelter Worker

Dear World,

The people who sleep in our shelter are not bums. They are not losers or loafers looking for a handout. They are soldiers who are fighting for their lives.

They are fighting in a war that is as old as mankind itself: the war is being fought over justice.

If you want to get the best possible picture of who us shelter workers are and what we do, maybe it would be best to imagine trench warfare in World War I. Our clients are the soldiers in the trenches--some of them don't even realize they are in battle--and we are the red cross. We are there to support them in their battle, to understand the nature of their wounds--wounds that were caused or exacerbated by an unjust system, have no doubt about that--and to ultimately support them on their way to an individual victory (housing and stability) and to a collective victory (justice).

Like the soldiers and support workers in war, we have to have faith that this is a battle that can be won. We have to believe that by raising enough awareness, and providing enough of the right kind of support to the soldiers on the front lines, we can make a positive and lasting change in the lives of each of the residents in our shelters, and can permanently improve the lives of those suffering from poverty.

I am writing this letter from the United States of America. We are one of the richest countries in the world, and many of our fellow citizens live beneath the poverty line. They sleep under bridges. They suffer from physiological conditions that could be eliminated or managed if they were only properly cared for. We have a lot of work to do in the United States.

We have a lot of work to do the world over, and that work has to begin by changing the way we look at poverty, homelessness, justice and equality.

There is a war on. Where do you stand?


A Shelter Worker

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