Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wednesday - A great day

1. Primary homelessness
People without conventional accommodation. For example:
- Living on the streets.
- Sleeping in parks.
- Squatting in derelict buildings.
- Using cars or railway carriages as shelter.

2. Secondary homelessness
People who move from one form of temporary shelter to another. This can include:
- People using emergency accommodation such as hostels for the homeless or night shelters.
- Teenagers staying in youth refuges
- Women and children escaping domestic violence (in women's' refuges).
- People staying temporarily with other families and friends (because they have no accommodation of their own or cannot stay with their own family).
- People using boarding houses on an occasional or intermittent basis.

3. Tertiary homelessness
People who live in boarding houses on a medium to long-term basis.
Residents of private boarding houses often do not have:
- A separate bedroom or living room
- Kitchen and bathrooms of their own.
- Self-contained accommodation.
- The security of a lease.
(From: Homelessness, by Samara Pitt)

I had woken up in the night and thought, "Gee, my feet are smelly," and gone back to sleep. When I woke up in the morning light I realized the smell was not coming from my feet, but from another homeless person's feet, a hand span from my face, who must have come by in the night. In fact there were two of them, and the other was sitting nearby having a smoke. I told a friend and he said it was better than waking up to a knife pressed against your stomach. True, lol (laugh out loud).

I went and used my last $5 to buy a bag of Chicos (chocolate jelly babies), my favorite lolly, as a treat for the end of the month before I start some fasting in Feb. Then I headed over to Urban Seed and bought the Homelessness Resource book that Anita from St.Martins had given me the money for last Sunday.

As I was walking back to the Steps I saw Robbie and his crew (Dougy was not there) on the seats in front of SPC and he waved me over to shake my hand hello. Now I had been talking to someone earlier in the week about how I had been comfortable approaching Dougy and Robbie when they were alone together, but I probably wouldn't be accepted when they were with the rest of their gang (about 6 others, half of who were indigenous, a couple were females), and so I mostly walked by on the other side of the street when they were sitting as a group. After I shook Robbie's hand he offered me a can of beer, but I said I didn't drink, which caused him to choke on his drink in surprise, and splutter "bullshit" and everyone else laughed. He pointed to my cross and said, "Do you know who Jesus was?" I gave three answers, but each time he shook his head. So I asked him what his answer was, and he said, "An alcoholic; because of the wine he made." Then he said, "Do you know who made marijuana?" and I replied, "God, as it is a part of his creation." He said "That's right." Then I said, "God creates a lot of things and it's up to us as to whether we use them for good or for bad..." and he said "I'm gunna punch you in the head!" then straight away also said, "You're ok, you always say hello when you go by, you're fine." So I sat down with them all for the next hour and no one was bothered. I even pulled out my Homelessness Resource book and started to read it. A one-armed man with an Australian flag bandana was sitting next to me, and saw it. We started talking about homelessness issues, the biggest for him was that there was no subsidy for prescription glasses, and poor people like him would never be able to spend three to four hundred dollars on glasses, and so he didn't wear any. I was able to identify with him as I didn't have my glasses with me, while living on the streets.

After an hour I got up and went across to the Steps. Abbey was there, and said hello as I stood nearby. I sat down and she said "Don't worry, I won't get too close to you," and, "Those girls from last night are nice, but I think they were wanting to get away from me, as they didn't stay late." It seemed as though she had an expectation that people looked down on her and wouldn't want to be associated with her. So I decided to stay, until she left me, not the other way around. I offered her a Chico, and she cautiously took one only after she insisted on seeing me eat one first. Then as we talked she asked for more and kept taking them by the handful, until they were all gone. She talked about growing up as a ward of the state, and mentioned being a part of the drug and prostitution scene in St. Kilda (although it wasn't clear if she had been a prostitute, and I don't want to make that assumption). She said she was going back to the Rehab Centre tonight, not because she had a current addiction, but because they would be able to help her with some penicillin or medicine as she said she always gets a headache when she eats any food. She was really worried about that. After an hour she said she was leaving to go and meet her sister, thanked me for talking with her, and headed off.

I walked back out of the city, heading to my friend's house, as he was giving me a lift to Church home group, meeting at Isa Browns cafe, in Hawthorn. As I walked I was singing a few songs to God, and took left and right turns, towards Clifton Hill, without any forethought. Next thing I knew I was walking past a cafe and saw Anita, who waved, and I went inside for a quick hello. I showed her the Homelessness Resource book I had bought, with her funding, and thanked her again. We had a quick chat, but I was in a hurry, and so headed back out to Clifton Hill, and went to Small Group with Scotty. Our group had one of the best nights of discussion, talking about faith, expectations, and interacting with God.


Kate said...

Hey mate, just found your blog. How did you find the resource book? Credo opens again next Tuesday, you must come in and have lunch! Cheers, Kate

John Christopher said...

Hi kate,
The resourse book should be very interesting, I'll let you know when I've read through it, and I'll definatly come by and check out Credo soon :)

Wayne Stewart said...


I've been reading your blog for a while and I am just awestruck at the guts you are showing in your faith walk.

I've been up to Melbourne (I live in Geelong) a few times in the last few weeks but haven't spotted you. I'm up again a three times in the next week and will look out for you.

I discovered another blog/site that might interest you and your readers.

Yours in Christ,

Wayne Stewart