October 13, 2012

Homeless

In the mid 2000's my college sent us to Maryland (a few states over) to attend a 3 day homeless coalition convention. Our job was to attend as many workshops as humanly possible and take detailed notes. These workshops were taught by successful non-profit managers from across the nation and it blew my mind how creative, responsible and caring people can be when they focus all that creativity in to something positive. MashaAllah.

We had to teach what we learned to Campus Ministry and the community service department as well as implement the most feasible programs at our school.  I attended some REALLY interesting workshops that I'm now incorporating into my homeless shelter proposal, inshaAllah. SubhanaAllah, but you know what stuck in my mind the most? Our accommodations.

We went at the end of October when it was chilly and every group had to find a spot on the gymnasium's floor. We had a curfew and we all shared the public bathroom. Blankets and sleeping bags were purposely few and a first come first serve situation. The organizers then left us with dim lights and a few open windows to let in a draft. I spent both of my nights twisting and turning on that cold hardwood floor and waking up sore and very thankful I wasn't homeless. I was never in any real danger, I had safety in numbers (other students from my college), inside a secure building of a large university, the temperature plummeted but it wasn't low enough for us to freeze or develop hypothermia (FAR from it).  I knew it was temporary and that I would be fed at a reasonable hour yet, I felt vulnerable and totally unsure of my safety and well being.

We were not told ahead of time we would be sleeping on the floor or else we would have brought our own pillows, blankets and sleeping bags. I remember my group huddling together to keep warm and more than one person to a blanket. Talk about a bonding experience! We were also to clear out of the gym, leave it as is and carry all that we brought with us from one workshop to the next. It was a humbling experience to say the least.

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