Homelessness is still here.
It's been weird months. Slovakia suffered from coronavirus and people were different. Solidarity, welcoming, helpful.
"Stay at home, wear a mask and disinfect your hands". And yes, homeless people had nowhere to hide, and somehow everyone was more aware of it. It was nice to experience this. There are three of us in the organization, each of us is working in homelessness for many years. However, this is the first time we have experienced such a huge solidarity with people who do not have a home. We hope that sensitivity will not be lost as the coronavirus is lost. For us, this topic is necessary for its everyday life. No, they can't blame themselves. No, they're not all alcoholics and no, they're not a trash just because they don't have a home. Life is hard on the street. If it is not a coronavirus, it is a winter. If it is not a winter, then it is an endless summer heat. We are still here, every day, talking loudly about what can happen to each of us.
We very much hope that solidarity and an understanding of the difference between us will remain after the crisis too. You can find our photos together with NGO PRIMA on citylight if you walk through Bratislava's old town.
Thanks to World Habitat for helping us.
Stay home? Without home.
Our aim was to be where we needed to be. I have to say that we really did it. Every day looked similar. I really have never realized so intensely before how large the Old Town is :). We have tried to be with the homeless people in this crisis. Provide the latest information, advice, disinfectant materials, drapes and hot food. We honestly took it all to the street on our backpacks. These were really critical weeks, when homeless people lost, among other things, the small earnings that guaranteed them some food for each day. At the same time, they did not understand the recommendations that came from all sides. How to stay home when you are without home?
For many people, our work was invisible, but we fought to ensure that homeless people in particular were not invisible at this time. We did not meet our families and loved ones preventively either, we devoted all our time to work. However, these were weeks of solidarity. I was very pleasantly surprised by how many people contacted us with an offer of help for the homeless. We gratefully received every need on the streets from you. It was like people really realized in this crisis how easy it is to fall into poverty and homelessness. With the end of the coronary crisis, our work does not end, we remain in the streets and try to end homelessness.
Health? Not for everyone.
Reports from all sides reported that people should not see doctors unless they were urgently needed, that they should prescribe their medication by phone, and that they see a doctor if necessary. During the corona period of crisis, we saw a number of sick, injured and neglected homeless people in the field. These people can't just pick up their phones or just visit their doctor. Why? They are simply not entitled to basic health care, they often have debts to the health insurance company, they do not have previous medical records and not even a doctor to treat them. A few times, the ambulance service was called to the street, but they always told us on the plane after arrival that they also had more important things to do than treat homeless people with not entirely fatal consequences. The question was whether we should have wondered about their approach. Everyone was tired. There was enough treatment during this period, but we managed it and I believe we did everything as best as we could. We did it during all the holidays, even when it was raining, even when the sun was shining, even though we just didn't want to. But in the end, I'm glad that the people living out there on the street had someone to rely on in these difficult times. I am happy that even after 6 years I can happily declare that I still enjoy and fulfill my work.
Heart at home without home.
I felt proud, when time stopped in the country and the desire for profit was replaced by reciprocity, empathy and solidarity. I have never heard of you, I have never seen you. To us and to many social workers on the streets, in the Roma communities, in centers and facilities that you have never heard of or seen in the media. For people living on the edge, whose invisibility burns our eyes. I believed that this virus would change us. It will change our relationship to the nature, which we treat as it belongs to us. It will change our relationship with people who are on poor. It will change our relationship with ourselves. Today, as the time machine has started again, I believe less and less. I'm afraid of our forgetfulness. We remain invisible, but we do not forget.
Thanks to the Public Defender of Rights for the meeting.