I’ve kept an eye out for Mandy this past week. She’s not normally at the same place. There’s almost always someone else there.
I saw her yesterday and she seemed more than happy just to say hello. Today I bought her breakfast. I don’t know if she’ll ever get into a shelter or get the help she needs. I think she needs a Monsieur Madalene who will do everything she needs for her. I’m not that person. I’m struggling to make my own ends meet and get my own goals. I don’t mind helping, but I’m not a do it for someone sort of person. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’m not a mom.
I reached out to someone I work with. Last spring, he was on a helping the homeless kick. He seemed put out that I had already obtained experience in this area. I tried to tell him what he could do, what others could do, but it was obvious he wanted to be the star, so I backed off. He made a whole campus wide homeless awareness initiative, which never really picked up. This isn’t because people don’t care, but because (I think) he picked topics that people are uncomfortable with, like the homeless people who are living in the city after being raped, tortured, and/or mutilated in the Congo. This opened some people’s eyes and shamed or scared others too much to engage.
While I agree this is a worthy cause, the homeless on campus – the ones people see every day – are not the same people. The people we see are in their 20s and early 30s. They are mostly white, not physically disabled, sometimes pregnant, sometimes whole families. Identifying with their stories would have gotten a larger turn-out and raised more money – at least to my way of thinking. It’s harder to ignore people you see every day when you know them.
I reached out to this person, telling him about the amazing resources I’d found, contacts I’d made, and Mandy. I shared the meal tickets (literally) with him and asked him to distribute them freely. I told him Mandy’s story and asked if he had any idea who could help her or if he would be willing to assist in my quest.
His answer? “That’s a difficult situation. Good luck with her.”
Oh… so working with rescues and associations to find people is okay. But, simply helping someone who is hurting and on the street – that’s not worth your time?! He probably passes her everyday and doesn’t even see her.
Yes, I’m angry. I’m frustrated. And I’m looking at the battle – my good intentions strewn about in bloody heaps – some gutted with bayonets, some shot down before they could fully materialize. I see the people who tried to help but were rebuffed. And I send a smile to those of you who have reached out to me privately to help. I know I’m still standing here with a group, looking at Mandy wanting to help.
I need a tactician because right now, I want to sheath my sword and say that we may have to retreat from this battle. Certainly, I will keep bringing her food when I can. I will keep talking to her, asking how she’s been. And I hope to keep reporting it here.
It’s a sad state of affairs to think the battle is over.. in a war that I’m not certain can ever truly be won.
Since I can’t walk away… I guess the best thing I can do right now is hold the line.