GordonthehomelessmanMy family and I went into the city yesterday (Melbourne). It’s not something we do often as we live an hour or so away, but as my youngest son is highly interested in modern architecture, he loves going to see the tall, shiny buildings. My eldest son couldn’t wait to explore the magic shop and my husband and I love wandering through the gorgeous old arcades and cute little shops. 

But the most important thing about the city for our family, is the humbling effect it has on us as we’re faced with a social issue that’s nowhere near as prominent where we live.

The heart of the city is home to many living on the streets. On just about every street corner, you will be confronted by a little makeshift home and someone holding a cardboard sign that reads that they’re in need of food or money. This isn’t something my children are used to seeing as the homeless population is much smaller in the suburbs and they’re usually very well hidden.

It’s always interesting to see my boys reaction and how concerned and even frightening they are to approach these people. I sympathize though as I too find it confronting and question myself on the best way to start a conversation.

As we wandered around the city this day, we came across a man we’d seen the last time we were there. He was selling greeting cards, so it was a good opportunity to start a conversation about the various ways some homeless people are able to make enough money to feed themselves.

We bought some cards as we’d done the time before and had a quick chat. I asked the boys if they’d like to buy him some lunch. Though they were shy, they were happy to be able to do something for him. When we came back with the food and asked if he’d eaten, we were surprised that he rejected our offer, telling us “thank you, but I’ve had lunch and always buy my own food”. “The guy over there might be hungry though!”

We went over to the man selling a magazine called “The Big Issue”. He explained to us that he’s able to buy it for $3 and then sells it for $6, keeping the $3 profit. It turned out that he hadn’t had lunch and was ever so grateful for the food.

As we walked away, the boys were happy to have helped but had a myriad of questions which led to a very enlightening discussion. A wonderful opportunity for them to see the world through different eyes and find a new appreciation for their own good fortune. – Lis

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