• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Thursday, 27 September 2018 19:31

Let's help our fellow travellers find a place to call home - reflection

 

Marius Razafimandimby SVD 150By Marius Razafimandimby SVD

Does it surprise you to know that more than 120,000 people in Australia are homeless? The number seems small compared to the general population, until we remember that these are 120,000 people like you and me, but without any place to call Home. They do not have a roof over their heads, they do not know where the next meal will come from, and most importantly they do not have the means of support to help them get back on their feet.  

As the number of homeless people keeps increasing, this struggle has a corrosive effect on family life: the difficulty of finding a job, the impact on school children’s study. Being homeless affects a person’s capacity to contribute to society, as well as to benefit from it. Without an address, there can be no reference point for social services.

Homeless man 450Having lived in Melbourne for two years, I have come across many homeless women and men: in Swanston Street, around Flinders Street station, in the park along the Yarra River,  and from all over Australia.

History

Homelessness goes as far back as when poverty and inequality started in human history. However, it was not until 2010 that the concept of “World Homeless Day” emerged out of  online discussions among people working to respond to homelessness from various parts of the world, drawing international attention to the “sore on the body of humanity”. The first World Homeless Day was marked on the 10th of October 2010, and it is now observed on the same day every year.

What is World Homeless Day for?

As an international event, the purpose of World Homeless Day is to raise awareness of the need of homeless people, both internationally and at the local level for a safe place to live, and to find opportunities for communities to get involved in responding to homelessness. So, what can we do?

  • Educate others (from school children to adults) about homeless issues;
  • Highlight local issues and needs;

Support local good works through volunteering, rallying to raise funds or just provide items that they need to buy: clothing, food, etc. Best of all, stop and have a conversation with someone in order to help them feel a part of things.

A Place to Call HomeOn 18 September this year, the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese organised a “Walk for the Homeless,” to draw the attention of young people in Catholic schools to homelessness around us, and to emphasise this year’s social justice statement from Australia’s Catholic bishops: “A Place to Call Home: Making a Home for Everyone in Our Land”.

Cover Social Justice Statement 2018 450The Catholic definition of homelessness is more than just having access to safe shelter. The teaching on social justice goes beyond merely addressing “rooflessness”. It is about having, “a place to call home, where there is personal security, where families can flourish and be stable, where children can be educated and healthy, where each member of the family finds genuine wellbeing”. 

In Sydney, there is the Cana Community in Redfern, that welcomes anyone at any time. At Briar Terrace, in Melbourne’s urban Fitzroy, there is a welcoming place for homeless people, where many of the SVD seminarians have been going for pastoral ministry on a regular basis. It is a simple place with a simple motto, in line with this year’s Social Justice statement: “A place to call home.” You don’t have to DO anything at Cana and at Briar Terrace: just come, chat, have a cuppa, be welcomed, listen and be listened to. It’s a simple formula that works. 

What can politicians do?

St John Paul II once said: “the quality of a society is measured by how that society takes care of its most vulnerable members”. Politicians and political leaders may:

  • Acknowledge the World Homeless Day officially so that many more citizens can make a difference.
  • Form an advisory group on homelessness to point out the good works of service providers and release new funds each year for the purpose.

Homeless people are ordinary people like you and me, who were once visionary and had projects in life, but because of joblessness and the high cost of housing, perhaps because of drug abuse and alcoholism as well as domestic violence, they ‘dropped through the net’. As Kevin, a homeless man says, “In 20 years, it can be you… you never know mate!”

In Melbourne, there are charity organisations and individuals who are out there trying to help in terms of meals and clothing. For example, there are parking permits handed out by the City Council to a Homeless Service Organisation, ‘One Voice,’ to park their vehicles on the roadside for homeless people to get cleaned up: free showers and a laundry. At the same time, there are 44,000 empty rooms among families and real estate, unused in Victoria.

It is time that we looked at ways to provide short-term solutions to the long-term problem of homelessness in our land, to reach out and help those who are ‘down on their luck’ or wounded by the trials and trauma of life.

We are all on the road to somewhere – let’s find ways to help our fellow travellers, as the Good Samaritan did in Luke’s Gospel.

PHOTO, TOP RIGHT: Shutterstock

Read the Bishops' 2018 Social Justice Statement, 'A Place to Call Home' here.