Read The Family Under the Bridge to a young person and help spread homelessness awareness. "Armand, an old Parisian living on the streets of Paris, relished his solitary life. He begged and did odd jobs for money to keep himself warm and fed, and he liked his carefree life. Then one day just before Christmas, a struggling mother and her three children walked into his life..." Click here to order a copy for yourself or to offer as a gift!
I recently discovered a YouTube channel called Invisible People and I cannot stop watching it. It's like getting an entire education in homelessness by the homeless. Each episode is very short, between 3 and 9 minutes, and profiles an S.D.F. or homeless person--from a soft-spoken 83-year-old living in his car...to this resourceful, and creative woman. Do not hesitate to watch several of these eye-opening interviews. And after viewing a number of them, I guarantee you will be incapable of passing a homeless person on the street without stopping to say hello. You may even venture to ask them their story.
Last night I was tossing and turning in bed and could not get comfortable after pockets of cold air kept entering beneath the covers (our heater broke). I began thinking about some of the people who shared their stories of scavenging for cardboard to sleep on at night--or looking for a blanket after their own covers were stolen! We think thieves break into homes, but it is the homeless who are most often victims of theft.
Add to the misconceptions about homelessness our own insensitivities. How many of us have innocently joked about looking like a clochard or a hobo, when we really meant to say we need to get cleaned up? We mean no disrespect to the sans-abri, we just aren't thinking about our words.
This week we will revisit stories of homelessness from the French Word-A-Day archives. In this first story, which took place around 2003, my mom is wandering around the southern French town of Draguignan, when a homeless person confronts her and a few misunderstandings ensue (including a few from readers of the story itself!). Click here for the story and many thanks for reading and sharing.
A tip I learned from Mark Horvath, the creator of Invisible People--and from my Superhero sister-in-law: Give chaussettes! Homeless people go through a lot of socks as they travel in and out of shelters (which often close from 6 a.m to 7 pm--leaving the homeless out on the streets all day) or look for shelters. Share more tips on how to help the homeless, in the comments box below.
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi