Are we too busy to care?
Vancouver's first homeless
October 11, 2004
On Vancouver's busiest shopping street, the faint voice
of a middle-aged man goes unnoticed. He begs for food, money, clothes
and basic necessities, underneath the steps of a restaurant next
to a drug store and an ATM. How ironic!
Few people seem to
care about his silent cry for help. He has been reduced to a social
outcast without proper identity.
Wearing worn-out clothes, the
man looks for familiar faces among passing pedestrians. Occasionally,
he raises his voice and speaks
in Persian: "Please help me, I'm sick." His voice
stutters out of shame and guilt. He is Vancouver's first homeless
The man's past is a mystery; his fate remains uncertain.
He crawls through life, one hour at a time. Yet, few acknowledge
his presence on the sidewalk.
At the very edge of Canada's
scenic west coast, Vancouver is home to a growing Iranian community
with its own distinct challenges.
While waves of new immigrants make the daring journey half-way
across the world, personal stories of individual hardships remain
the tale of the homeless man on Robson Street remains untold.
of the homeless Iranian are vivid and painful. They are a reflection
of carelessness in our society. These images ought
to awaken our collective conscience. There are certainly more examples
of the working poor, students living in substandard conditions,
and fellow compatriots in extreme psychological and emotional distress.
does anyone care? Judging by the lack of media and public attention
to the case of Vancouver's first Iranian homeless, it is
fair to assume that our community is either careless or simply
too busy to care. Either way, one cannot justify apathy
Poverty and homelessness are global
concerns which do not disappear by laying blame on governments,
social classes, individuals, or
other external factors in life. It is equally unacceptable to view
them as someone else's problem.
to good old traditions of caring and looking after one another?
Why cannot we work in unison to generate greater awareness
on existing social problems in own our backyards, to raise funds,
and to organize food drives for the poor and the homeless?
younger generation could be best able to launch
innovative ideas towards complementing government sponsored social
programs with grassroots initiatives. However, it requires the
efforts of an entire community to address
immediate and long-term social needs.
Behshad Hastibakhsh, 33, is an award winning Political Scientist
by training, Marketing & Public Relations Specialist
by experience, and published Writer with passion. Behshad
leads a professional career in the high-tech business sector and
maintains vast interests in global politics. See: behshadh.com