Friday, October 23, 2009

Project: Lend an Ear

Okay so the picture is a little funny and sad at the same time...haha.

But just read....

I live in the big city...the typical kind you see on TV (for those of you living in Rural areas). I drive to and from school (and other places) in rush hour traffic, I drink my coffee and eat my breakfast on the road...and there is TONS of smog. And like any big city you see in the movies..we have our occasional homeless person who sits on bus stop benches, stands on the corner at freeway exits and entrances and hauls his/her stuff down the crosswalk.

Unfortunately, with the recession, I have noticed them more. Before it seemed there was only one homeless for a given large intersection. However recently I have noticed that in my area alone there is one for every street corner and every freeway on-ramp and off-ramp. The recession seems to have hit people pretty bad. Its the worst I've seen. And my parents say its the worst since they've moved to this country. Its a shame.

Of course, I can't help but feel sad every time I see one of these distressed souls, sitting, hopeless and quite obviously stressed out. I think it hit me the hardest when I saw a man selling water bottles on a street corner with a sign that read "Ice Cold water $1 a bottle! Laid off father of two girls...please help me put food on the table." I nearly cried. Being broke and jobless myself, I feel almost helpless that I am unable to lend a helping hand to these people. Often if I don't finish my lunch earlier that day...I share it with the first person I find siting on the side of the road with a sign in his/her hand.

But one day...if a fury of frustration at my inability to find employment...I realized I just wanted someone to listen. Its frustrating, almost debilitating to constantly try finding a job and not being successful and sometimes just having someone listen to you vent helps (of course money and food would help too....Alhamdulilah I live at home though).

So I came up with an idea. The idea is not completely mine...its kind of adopted. Do you remember the "Flashmob Iftars" from 2 or 3 years back? Well...on the same note...everyone's gotta eat. I'm sure if you're living in the states (especially now) or anywhere in the world practically you can find at least one person who is less fortunate than yourself. Perhaps the economy has placed them in an unfortunate situation. a lunch for yourself and one other person. Take that meal to that person and eat with them...speak to them...listen to them...or just sit silently. Reach out.

In today's society, Muslims aren't really looked at in a friendly manner...give people a reason to look at us differently and think of us differently.

And then...lemme know how your experience was. If you wanna remain anonymous....that's fine.


single4now said...

MashaAllah, brilliant idea! InshaAllah I hope more people try it. Although, knowing me, I'd be a bit scared to sit with a homeless guy with a sign like that. lol.

Mon Vie & Etc said...

yeah I agree with single4now. All the homeless people around my area are drug addicts or drunkards. I'm a tad bit scared to approach them, but at the same time, I know what it feels like to want for someone to genuinely care and listen to what you have to say. It's a tough world, maybe if people gave a damn, we wouldn't have so much problems now. Who knows? I pray that Allah will give me and others in the world the courage and compassion to be able to do that. Ameen.

P.S. I was also wondering whether it would be okay for me to view your private blog? Since I couldn't get you email, I had to do it here. I understand if you would prefer not to allow me though. :) said...

I'll be honest...I'd probably be a little afraid to sit and talk to someone who had a sign like the one pictured. However, I have come across a few individuals in the same state who aren't drunk or druggies and have actually been pretty decent to have a talk with. Subhan'Allah they remind you to be grateful for what you opens your eyes.

Mushowish said...

It's a really really good idea, hopefully i will make myself do it one of these days. AS you saying listening can be such a powerful tool, and all it takes from us is time and patience.

It would be great to hear your experience(s), hopefully will inspire others to do the same. said...

One of these times, I was actually at a coffee shop near campus, enjoying a cup of tea and reading a book in the outdoor patio and one of the neighborhood homeless individuals simply passed by said hello and asked me how I was. Now, I've noticed many individuals simply ignore such conversation as if the person doing the greeting doesn't exist. Its a shame.

I decided that I was better than that..especially since I am wearing hijaab, I've got "Muslim" written all over me. I politely responded, "Hi. I'm doing well, thank you. And, how are you doing?" Suddenly his face lit up. He smiled. "I'm alive and I'm grateful for that, but I'm not doing so good."

I immediately kicked into what they call therapeutic communication in nursing school. Its a way of communicating with individuals without placing blame or without showing pity. My next question was "why aren't you doing so good?" Of course his answer was that he was homeless..but we continued our conversation...and it was the most rewarding 15-20 minutes I ever spend in conversation with anyone....ever.

People seem to think that somehow they are better than the poor souls that live on the streets. These people are fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters and friends. Not all of them are drunkards, not all them are thieves (so stop grabbing on to your purses like your life depends on it every time one of them happens to be in your vicinity). And even if they did steal...did you ever think that desperate times call for desperate measures? Please note, I'm not condoning such behavior...I'm just suggesting that we learn to step out of the box and for a second think about what it might be like to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.

farah said...

What a great idea! A friend and I actually did this kind of spontaneously over the summer; we were coming out of a tiny store with hummus and pitas in our hand in downtown Toronto being ravenously hungry, and there was a homeless person right outside the storefront. I think because it was both of us together, we approached him and asked if he would like to join us for lunch. We had an enlightening experience; he was in town for his lawyer brother's wedding, but he couldn't afford accommodation, or the trip back to Vancouver, so was panhandling to make the Greyhound fare. He was a high school dropout who always wanted to go back and get his diploma, except life had just never allowed him to do so. He was also really funny, liked the Beatles, and had grown up in the same area of T.O as my friend some thirty years ago.
The experience really opened my eyes to a lot of things. Firstly, homeless people are PEOPLE. Yes, I know, obvious. Secondly, life has no guarantees; the guy's brother is a lawyer, he is homeless. Thirdly, our little token of kindness brightened up this man's day; it was simple, and cost us absolutely nothing. Fourth, it really hit home the opportunities and blessings that I take for granted; a loving, supportive family, a diploma, a chance for a degree, the spare change for hummus and pita, the money needed to travel, everything. Alhamdullilah. May Allah make Sunny's life easier, and bless him with bounty as well, Ameen. said...

Subhan'Allah...jazak'Allah khair for sharing this story.