SL – Week #17: SDF Or Homeless

When I read the new topic of Sylvain Landry’s weekly photo challenge, it made me stop and wonder: do I even have photographs of homeless people? After rooting around my files for quite a long time, I just had to admit to myself that yes, indeed, I never took a picture of a homeless person. I had many encounters with them, ever since I was a little child. Countless of times my parents (and later on myself) bought them food and handed it over to them. Or packed the huge masses of leftovers in restaurants after our meals to pass them along to those who had not yet had any dinner. But I never took pictures of them…

Maybe I just feel like if I do that, hiding along, trying to catch the moment, it would not be well seen by them. Like as if I would insult them by taking their picture.

I’ve travelled quite some really poor countries and encountered many very poor / homeless people. Scarcely though I took photographs of beggars or other hardship cases we’d visit through humanitarian aid. So I now can only enter a picture of a very, very poor family.

This particular family was a household of two women, mother and daughter, and the daughter’s own four children from four different fathers. They had no man in their family, which meant no protection whatsoever and nearly no rights. They had lost their herd in the crucially cold winters of the early 21st century. You could say – yes, at least they are not homeless. But they had nothing, believe me. We were there. We talked to them. We saw the way they lived, out in the suburbs of Ulanbaatar, the slums made out of thousands of poor households, losing everything in the countryside and moving to the border of the city with hope of a better life. Who are we to judge them and their decisions, their actions? So we are here to listen. To talk. To try to help, at least a little bit, where we can.

watermarked-beneficiaries household mongolia

The thing about the poor people I encountered all around the world though is that even though they have nearly nothing, they are some of the happiest persons I’ve ever met. Take Nepal, for example: I’ve never ever visited a country where poverty takes such a big part of any daily life there. And even so – one of my most incredible memories there was seeing a little child with filthy clothes, running barefoot down a street full of litter, carrying something in his hand and having the biggest, happiest smile ever… When I saw what he was carrying I couldn’t believe my eyes – the picture was too strange and beautiful at the same time.

He was carrying a cage with a fat dead rat lying on its back, paws above…

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6 thoughts on “SL – Week #17: SDF Or Homeless

  1. It’s lovely to connect with you, thanks for stopping by my blog. I know what you mean when you talk about happiness is still possible when you have little material possessions. Back in the recession of the ’80’s when our older children were very young, we had a tough time of it for a while. We did have a home but it was cold and damp and we didn’t have the money to change that for a couple of years as my husband was out of work. As soon as he had a regular wage again, we put heating in and repaired the old cottage. When I look back at photographs from that time, I see my kids with just as big a smile on their faces as when times were better for us. Being together and being loved and supported was far more important than the central heating and new flooring. For us as parents there was the worry of providing for our children, but for them, as long as they had clothes to keep them warm in winter and enough food to nourish them, (with a treat at the weekend) they were happy. If they were homeless and lacked decent food it would have been a different story for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story here ❤ I can totally see what you mean! Of course, basics should be somewhat available for a child to feel happy despite anything – as you described: food, warmth, love. It's a completely different story when you see the homeless Mongolian children living in the underground heating system of the city… If you have to struggle with any of it it's a disaster. But if you have the minimum of the three things mentioned above, happiness is sometimes experienced deeper than many of the rich people… Nice thoughts – thank you for stopping by, I really appreciate it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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