Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This City is Haunted By Ghosts.....

Borrowing a line from a song by Alexis On Fire, the title if written whole would be, that “ This city, this city is haunted, by ghosts from broken homes. This city, this city is haunted, there’s no hope, left for these souls.” The title of this song is also aptly named, “This could be Anywhere in the world’. Seemed like an ordinary hardcore song. However the lyrics remain more poignant than they should be for a song of this nature and is hauntingly striking, if we look beyond our comfort zones.

As we lay on our comfortable beds, in our air conditioned rooms and ponder upon our everyday problems; on how we lack the materialistics, Ipods, PS2’s and how little we earn for so much of work that we do; we ramble on with our personal problems. How trivial are they then compared to those people who struggle with their lives daily, trying to feed themselves with the meek earnings that they have. Only recently have I felt that there are people who need hope, perhaps much more than others, where survival is nothing more than everyday struggle to be fed. In 2005, there is an estimate of at least 100 million homeless people in this world.

I’ve seen homeless children. Orphans. Interacting with them. They are much easier to reach out. Still young and ever eager to see the world.You see, I joined my LF to this outreach called KAWAN located in the heart of the city. It’s a drop-in for the homeless where they are fed. I was invited and I took this chance perhaps to do some ‘charity’. Or so I thought I would. I thought, ‘Hey…I’ve been to an orphanage. How hard can it be? Its gonna be a walk in the park.” When we reached the centre, for the first time, I felt what it is like to live on the streets. I mean I didn’t experience living on the streets, but judging from the conditions of the area where KAWAN is located, its not as easy as I thought. At the point, I knew I was humbled. How arrogant was I into thinking that all is fine. It isn’t.

Many things went through my mind. Were these people hostile? Some of them could have been drug addicts and even perhaps the question of the realities of AIDS arising. It did went through my mind. This is much different from dealing with children. These are people who have gone through so much in life. These are people who are as old as our grandparents. And there are those who are younger. Their hearts hardened and weathered by the harsh living conditions. Poverty, hopelessness seemed an integral part of their lives. And it was at that moment that I decided to try to bring myself to do what I can for these people. We had a praise and worship session .We did some sharing, a skit on the parable of the Prodigal Son, which is perhaps a New Testament classic. It was in Cantonese. We acted it out while Eddy, narrated. It was most fun and encouraging especially when we saw that there are some who have heard of this parable before and giving some feedback. And then there are those who are weary from a days work of survival and just waiting for the food. When dinner was served, we took the opportunity to mingle with the crowd. It wasn’t easy, well at least for me, as I tried to choose a common topic to talk about. And when I did, I learnt that these folks have much to tell, and have much to let out. About lessons in life, and how not to stray onto the wrong path. And when it was time to leave, we say our goodbyes and vowed to come back soon. My eyes, to say the least were opened. I confided with some of my LF members and they too told me that it wasn’t an easy task initially. But with their perseverance and their genuine care for these people, it wasn’t impossible to deal with.

There are many homeless people out there. People with real needs. They do not need computers. They do not need PDAs, notebooks, a Gucci wallet or an LV handbag. They need food. They need to survive. They need more than Charity. They need God’s Word. They need hope. Our cities are haunted with ghosts from broken homes. How they are homeless, is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they have families who have disowned them. Perhaps they have lived on the streets for far too long, and forgotten what it was that had put them there in the first place. It is a sad state of affairs. Perhaps we need a welfare state. A system where these people can be taken care of. All this of course is yet to be seen. Right now, it’s the NGOS who are picking up the pieces, and I really do have the admiration for them on how they dedicate their lives for this cause. However we all know that admiration alone is not enough. Perhaps we need to act, to make change in things such as these. And we need to complain less about our trivialities. Try to be more aware that your problems are not the biggest in the world.

As I wait for my next trip to KAWAN, I’m writing this post, as a reminder of the people who have genuine needs. Once again they need a lot and especially Salvation and grace, not only from God, but from the people around them. I don’t know what my next step is, but I know that whatever it is, it would be a step to do my part for the people who need help. “ THIS CITY IS HAUNTED BY GHOSTS FROM BROKEN HOMES.” And THIS COULD BE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. So perhaps the next time you have an encounter, what would your part be?


Dr Jekyll said...

the internet allows amazing things like surfing from one website to another, an all of the sudden finding something that you totally agree. this was the case. i was just browsing and i recognised this image, these photos from homeless people. i did a research as well because i wanted to post something similar on my blog.
i just wanted to tell you that i could haven't said it better, i totally agree with you. we have to stop complaining about our life and pay attention to those in need. and they are so many! we are in this world for some reason, and one is to help each others. life is a hard journey and we have to strugle a lot, so we to take care of each others. sometimes we hear people saying "ho there's nothing we can do, it's the government that has to act", well it's not. it's up to us to say something , to act. even if it's just let people around you aware of what going on in the world, in your street.
i really liked this post, it's good to see that ther are other people in the world that think the way i do. congratulations. if you can take a look on some post that i have on my blog:
Take care and keep up the good work.

Vertigo_X said...

HI Jekyll,
Thanks for the comments.
Its really encouraging to find that you are encouraged by this post. And i hope that many people too will. Sometimes, things just need to get going and with all hope, people will start to see beyond the petty and the trivial and look at social matters like this, and things that matter in life.
Thanks once again and i will add your postings in my list of blogs.

A thousand thanks to you , Doc :)

Black Mascara said...

I believe that if we buy a man a fish, we feed him for one day. But if we teach him to fish, we feed him for a life time. Malaysia should be considered as one of the luckiest countries in the world in terms of living standards. Perhaps we can learn by observin the nature.

Remember this parable of King David teachin his son Solomon about the fact on how the ants survive. Solomon saw the army of ants hurrying about collecting food before the snow falls. "Look," said David, "These ants are so small but they carry loads bigger than their own size! They are not as weak as you think!"

I dun think being homeless has anythg to do with the economy of the country or the caused by hierarchy standards. You said in your blog there is homeless children, doesn't that imply positively that poverty is somehow being handed down like a culture, one generation to another? If a small creature like an ant knows how/when to collect provisions, how can human fail to do so? Especially able-bodied men, who chosed to be "homeless" and "jobless" (yes, I feel that it is a CHOICE)

KAWAN is of best intention, I understand. But I can't find myself agreein to hand-outs, for I believe in personal efforts. I'm not bein cold-hearted or whateva, but being good samaritans all the time doesn't help the world grow, the people will only get lazier and helpless (if not even hapless, coz the continuous incitation of pity, its pathetic)

Human should learn from the seemingly lesser God's creation. Being poor is way more honourable than bein homeless by choice and hopin for kindly people like you to peel abundle of hand-outs off. I'm addressin abt the people like that photo you put in your blog, that guy. What's his problem? Does being cacat stopped him from feeding himself? Then you should really check out what the people of China do, have you not heard of these men (some as old as >80) who carried loads up the HuangShan Mountain. Imagine a single-armed 80 y'old man carrying luggage of 100kg, climbing to the mountain top where the lodging house is, just for some money (around RM10/less if convert from won to rm) Google for "men with mountains on their shoulders"

Well, my point is, we do need to hesitate before performing charity. Time changed, we no longer live in the era wherein Jesus lived. Think of how our act can even serve to help them, and what happens tomorow if you're not there to help them anymore? Will they simply lay down and die, find another gd samaritan, continue be homeless, or fight for survival unto his/her best available efforts? Thank you.

Vertigo_X said...

Well Black, I would definitely agree that it is better to teach a man to fish, so that he is equipped for life, than to give him a fish each day. It is true. Some people may take these gifts for granted and expect to be given more. That’s the nature of us as humans isn’t it?

However, I think poverty may be due to more than the lack of will to work. Yes, I did imply that poverty may be passed down from generations. Some people are lazy to find jobs and often times, we see able bodied people who beg and so on. But then again, there are those who did not chose a life of poverty but have inherited so. Through the lack of education, generations are lost for they have never risen above poverty. They were not educated to do so, and thus perhaps ignorance is also another factor.

Some fight for survival due to hardship in living. Others may have been publicly prejudiced from getting jobs, due to many factors, perhaps physical disability being one of them. And then there are those who are reformed (from prison and so on), but are still outcasts after paying their dues for society has already judged them no better than before they were rehabilitated.

Education is perhaps than one of the things that we should stress. And this I would say that the government does not pay attention or rather the lack of it for people who are in poverty. It’s true that men should not be given fishes but be taught to fish, but then, what if they were not even taught to fish in the first place? No guidance is given to this lost generation. This is where good governance should be portrayed. Education may only be a small solution to help solve the issue of poverty, but nonetheless, it remains an important one.

:) Well, as for Kawan, it is true that food handouts are given. But then again the sharing of hope, the sharing of God’s love is perhaps the underlying reason why we go there. Many of these people are in their twilight years, and many, their hearts hardened after leaving on the streets for too long. To be frank, I will never know what they think or why they act the way they do. But they are no less deserving of God’s love than anyone of us and that’s the reason why we do the things we do. To try to spread hope to a hopeless world. There are some (who have frequented KAWAN) who have actually found jobs. Some succeed. Some fail, due to perhaps the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. Some rose above it, some don’t. They do fight for survival and sometimes it’s a very difficult fight. But it doesn’t mean that we do not keep trying for these peeps. Well, if we are not around, there will be others who will continue, and this will be in succession, I believe.

Hey, to bring hope and awareness in a skeptical world, someone has to do this. So why not we? : )

Hahaha…that would be my reply. Thanks Black. Catch ya later!

Black Mascara said...

Hi vertigox^^ well, I guess we would know how it actually feels like when we were livin in those shoes, wouldn't we? I did agree on your words up to certain extends though. Perhaps by now you might be sayin that I'm too sceptical over charity acts and all, but I still feels that giving charity should have a certain limitations. HUmans do need to be diciplined and to fend for ourselves its what most of us average people would do in order to survive in this cruel and testing world. But God hadn't created man imperfect, for Man is His best creation after all. How can poverty be handed down or inherited yet "they didn't choose" to be bugged by poverty at the same time?

You mentioned about "ignorance", any sane-minded human can tell by his/her own conscience and intuition that bein poor is not a very positive thing, be it people from the urbans or even rurals. As the child grows up, he/she needed the dicipline in order to fight to overcome poverty and overtake homelessness (if any), wouldn't you agree? He/she can't hope for the good samaritans' succesors to continue helpin them. Haven't you heard of a saying that goes "the poor shall inherit the world and the meek shall inherit the moon"? If you can say what goes around comes around, then comes around and goes around and round again it would be. When would it end? A circle is an eternity. Can't we overcome that even? "We can work on it in the next Karma, hahaha."

Well, my point is lack of education, differs in hierarchy standards, physical disabilities, public prejudices are not the crucial factor that contributes to homelessness. As your blog is more focused on the aspect of homelessness instead of poverty, I am less bias towards the latter. Eventhough both of these were linked in many ways, but they aren't the same. Therefore, I would like to stress that living a poor life is more honorable than being homeless by choice. Homes can be build anywhere, even makeshifts little rumah setinggan, are homes too. Compared to sleeping on the streets. To be honest, I have led the kind of life that I mentioned in my previous sentence when I was very much younger. I know how it feels like being homeless and having no one to turn to but ourselves. We didn't turn to anybody, and yet we made it this far. I survive today to write you this reply and as I look back from where I came from, it seems not too far away that I had once been on the worst side of the street. This is part of the reason why I dun give much thoughts to doing charity especially giving hand-outs. But if taking care of the old and the sick is what you can call charity too, that is exactly the way I do my bit, relentlessly without any hesitations, if I may say. Thanx!