Lastnight, as my husband and I drove to dinner, we pulled up to the light across the street from DHL and I could hardly believe what I saw in front of me.... sitting there on the step right in front of their building ... was a homeless man w/ what looked to be all of his belongings. We sat at the red light for a few minutes, so I had the chance to watch him. He was rocking back and forth a little and was obviously talking to himself. At one point, it even seemed like he was laughing with himself. I wish I had had a camera so that everyone could see the sadness of the situation. He was probably 70 or so years old... maybe older. His hair was completely white and his face looked old. Living on the streets can age you fast... and if you're a drinker, well, alcohol really ages you... I didn't see any bottles around him - he just looked old and homeless.
He had everything there... his clothes, his prayer mat, blankets beneath him.... everything. It's the first time I've seen a homeless man here in Bahrain. I've seen beggers... I see them daily, matter of fact, and I've seen people who live in these wood shacks - we have a family that live probably 6 blocks from us in what used to be called the shanty town, but all of them moved except for this one family - BUT I've never seen anyone sleeping out on the street.
It's a sad day for Bahrain... maybe I'm out of the loop... maybe it's in other areas and I've never seen it... I don't know, but this was a first for me. I saw an Arabic soap opera two ramadhan's ago that took place in Bahrain. There were three homeless guys in this soap living in one of these shacks, they were beggers, alcoholics and drugs addicts, but I figured it was only on TV. This is probably happening a lot more than I realize... this homeless situation.... is it?
As I watched him, I turned to my husband and the first question out of both of our mouth's was.... "where is his family?" I then wondered if he was mentally ill or maybe a drunk. I then found myself asking all types of questions.... Why isn't there a homeless shelter in Bahrain? Do they have places where ppl like this can go? Is there a food pantry? What about soup kitchens that feed the poor w/ leftover food from these hotels and such? Are there volunteers to help? Why hasn't a mosque reached out to help this man? Does he have any friends? Does anybody care? Is anybody out there?????
As we passed DHL, I kept thinking about him... wondering about him. I'd see people walking on the street, not far from where he was, and I wondered if anyone had reached out to him. Did anybody notice that this man was homeless? How could someone not notice this man?
Or was everyone like us? Did they see him, pass him by and go on w/ their lives and the daily grind of living?
Coming from the United States and having lived in Dallas, Texas, for many years, I saw a lot of homeless ppl. I worked in downtown Dallas for years.... and there are a LOT of homeless people there. Some are very scary... some walk up and down the street having full blown conversations w/ themselves, arguments even.... it's a really sad sight. I did a lot of volunteering in Dallas, worked in soup kitchens, delivered food and clothing on holidays thru my church... and there were a lot of small groups of people who would take the homeless food and drinks during the summer months and deliver blankets and clothing in the winter.
Some of these homeless don't want help - they refuse to go to shelters - is this the way this homeless man was that we saw last night? I found myself wondering that... wondering about his family... if they had tried to help him but he refused the help. Had he been in a mental hospital? Had his money run out? But... money isn't a factor for Bahrainis when it comes to health care in this country - right?? It is in the States... if you don't have insurance, you might as well forget it or when the money runs out - from the insurance company - you might as well bargain for sleeping on the streets. A lot of the homeless in the States are ppl that have been let out of mental hospitals.
It all makes me so sad. I can remember working in the soup kitchens in Dallas. You would not believe the numbers of people that came through to get warm food. I remember working on a Thanksgiving... it breaks my heart to think about it. There were so many children.... so many. And the food wasn't that great. So many items were stale and we'd heat it up to make it edible.... but these ppl never complained... they smiled and said thank you. It really makes you think twice about your life and what you have compared to others. When we'd deliver food and clothing on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I'd sit in my car and cry.... I so often felt guilty for having things when there were so many who had nothing.
It bothers me to see these people. It bothers me to see beggers. Even last night, we were over by the Batelco bldg. in Manama, and there was this guy begging whom I've seen many times. He seems mentally challenged... but I'm not sure. We gave him money... I usually do. So many ppl tell me not to do it, but it's really hard for me not to give. There are a few that I refuse to give money to... that could be out working... but then there are some that need the help - or at least they look as if they do - maybe I'm being fooled. There's one guy that sits in front of Nasser Pharmacy and he begs every day. He's an older man... and I saw him wearing cufflinks the other day! I could hardly believe it. I don't give money to him, but he always asks for it. He sits on a cardboard box and holds out his hand when you walk past him. He probably can't find a job and is too old to be hired (or he would be in the States), but I don't feel good about giving this guy money, especially now after seeing his cufflinks. There's a man that stands outside of AlJazeera supermarket that begs for money. He's a mentally challenged man. We give him money every time we see him. He's always very gracious. He can barely talk, but he always says thank you. There's another guy we see quite often... not for sure of his exact location... (since I'm still not good w/ street names), but he looks like a drug addict. He never wears any underwear under his thobe... he makes all these hand gestures to motorists... and seems high all the time... we don't give him money. Somebody needs to put him in a drug rehab facility - but would it work?!!
I think it's a good idea to get together to form organizations to help the needy in this country. I know there are places that you can donate clothing and food - to various mosques - but what about the homeless? Opening up a place that would be similar to the Salvation Army would be a good idea. Opening up homeless shelters would be good... even organizing and setting up a soup kitchen. I know a lot of people help the poor during Ramadhan and Eid... but what about during these other months? If so many ppl can pull together to boycott Batelco... isn't it worth as much to pull together to help people like this?
Just an idea.