Dear Stranger

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau

A few weeks ago, I joined @jaytheauthor, his partner Echo, and their friends to kick off Jay’s first street exhibit. Jay is a singular storyteller who normally writes poems about the people he meets on the street and shares his work by displaying his poems on the walls and street poles of the city.

But this time, it was a little different. He compiled a collection of stories and beautifully showcased them side by side on the walls of Hosier Lane. The poet with a heart of gold welcomed onlookers as they passed by and read his poems. They left with a smile, maybe a tear in their eye, and better appreciation for what it’s like to live on the streets.

I returned a few weeks later with Elham and David on their wedding day. Many of the poems were still there and had become an ever present part of the city. It was heartening to see that Jay’s words had survived Melbourne’s four seasons.

Did you know that:

  • Almost a quarter of people who are homeless in Australia are aged between 12-24 years. This includes approximately 19,400 children under 14, who don’t have a safe place to call home.
  • Contrary to common perception, only 7% of people who are homeless are sleeping rough in improvised dwellings such as sleeping in parks, bus shelters, abandoned buildings or shop doorways.
  • Domestic violence is one of the main reasons people seek help from a homeless service. Every week, women across Australia, often with children, escape abusive partners with nowhere to go and no other option.
  • Homelessness can be triggered by a range of factors and circumstances that are outside of our control. Factors such as sudden job loss, injury and illness can lead to homelessness and can happen to anyone.
  • Social and economic factors contribute to the problem of homelessness in Australia. In 2020, through Mission Australia’s 69 homelessness and housing services, they supported 17,368 people to get back on their feet and move towards rebuilding an independent life for themselves.

Only together can we break the cycle of homelessness. Wishing everyone a Happy Holidays. May we all do our part in putting a smile on the faces of the less fortunate, wherever you may be.

Join me on Instagram at @tocatlian for more urban lifestyle portraits.

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