homelessness. it’s a word, a way of life, so many people have always heard and, I’m sure, figured they knew so much about. I know I did. but then I participated in this thing called “a walk in her shoes.” I quickly realized while I may have “known” what homelessness was I certainly did not know what BEING homeless was like. and while I still would never try to pretend that I fully understand it, I would say I have at least a little better of an idea. the way this works is you are given a piece of paper with your new identity on it, and for the day you are supposed to be this person. you are given a story of how you became homeless, what lead you to charlotte, and what immediate needs you need to take care of. you are then handed a list of priorities that you need to get done in that day. these needs were anything from finding winter coats, a place to use the restroom, medicine, and maybe, most importantly, finding a place to sleep for the night.
the most heartbreaking part of this experience was having to walk all around charlotte, like any other homeless person would have to do, and after walking, sometimes for 30+ minutes, getting to where you need to go and them not even being able to give you what you need, or being closed. so not only are you tired, hot, hungry, and have no other means of transportation but your own two feet, but you don’t even get a guarantee that you can get a place to sleep or food, even if you make it to these shelters that are supposed to help you. I was honestly shocked at how hard it was to get the basic necessities of life if you can’t just walk to the next room, or drive down to target and just pick them up really quick. even things like public restrooms for these people to use are hard to come by once businesses close at 5 pm. “a walk in her shoes” was one of the simplest, yet most educational things I’ve ever participated in. it opened my eyes to the world that I hear so little about and the struggles that this world faces. the worst part was, I got to go home once the simulation was over. I didn’t really have to sleep on the street, because the women’s shelter was full, but so many people did. homelessness is not just something that is a problem in places like africa, or the run down cities of the united states, it’s a problem here in our own backyard of charlotte, north carolina. it’s our responsibility as not only christians, but as human beings to be aware of the struggles and hardships homelessness creates for people, so we can understand how and what we can do to help the people in these situations the best that we can.