Real testimonials from people who have overcome destitution.

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Avatar for Amorporelllano
2 years ago

hello dear friends of today I want to share a very sensitive and notorious point not only in my country, but also in a great part of the world (homelessness).

every day public spaces become traps and citizens increasingly take measures of personal protection. The homeless seem to be the only people unconcerned about this threat. It is common to observe once upper and middle class citizens, not to mention the lower class, being homeless, sleeping in the light of day on public streets in total tranquility, happy in the immunity of misery. People who have had to live in the shadow of vice, or victims of mental insanity. These people live from day to day, invisible in the eyes of society, forced to beg for money at traffic lights, rummage through garbage and sleep wherever the night takes them. A reality very difficult to conceive by their fellow citizens.

This situation of survival does not worry the homeless, since they are the only Venezuelans who do not fear the scourge of robbery. With old clothes and no shoes, these people live their dreary days rejected, unknown by a self-styled ''protective'' government. And it is precisely this lack that places them in a favorable situation compared to the rest of Venezuelans who walk the streets fearful of being stripped of their clothes or mobile equipment.It is therefore ironic that the most socially adapted citizen is the slave of possessions, of material goods that make him an easy prey for criminals. In this society where those who strive to obtain their property are condemned to live in anguish.

I had the opportunity to meet this character, a man common to everyone living in destitution for several years, "the madman" has a real name (Jose Luis Valvuena) a man who by economic problems and very close family losses, ended up going off the rails by surrendering to total destitution, not for that reason he is a "crazy" as many wrongly call him, on the contrary, Jose shows sanity, and also remorse, Jose in spite of not having to eat, the little he gets he gives it to the birds, feeding every day and being aware of them, somehow this person seeks to be what he once was, only that the lack of therapy with specialist to guide and vindicate him does not exist for him.

Another story that I also had the opportunity to hear firsthand was that of Luis Alejandro Araujo, an elderly man who wanted to narrate practically his day to day life.

Alejandro tells his heartbreaking process of physical and psychological deterioration with an energy and vitality that makes you think that it hurts more when you are treated with compassion than anything else. And his words give no respite.

Was there a moment of happiness? "I assure you, daughter, no. (...) Sunshine and spring are for everyone, but in some circumstances they become torture."

And love? "When you live on the street, every love story is a story of pain."

-What is the first night on the street like?

-The first night on the street you don't realize you're on the street. You don't have money to go to a pension or to a friend's house, you hang out in the place you are without knowing what you're waiting for and you get laid without sleeping a wink. You are without a penny in your pocket, with just enough wine to last the night, with four cigarette butts, shivering from the cold... completely destroyed.

-Do you think it's just for one night?

-No, I was aware that it was that night and the following ones. What you don't imagine is that it's going to be eternal, that it's going to last forever. It seems as if you were waiting for a miracle, although I knew I had no resources and I was aware that I was alcoholic.

-Is there a moment when you stop waiting for the miracle?

-Yes, that moment comes. When you've been there for a few years...


-Yes, years. When you've only been there for half a year, you're still approached by people you know or who see the situation you've reached and recommend that you go to Caritas or go to some kind of social assistance. But when you manage to get some help to reintegrate and detoxify, you realize that the drama you are carrying and the situation you are in is such that you cannot accept any help. You experience everything that happens to you through your fucked up state of mind and you tell yourself that, whatever you do, you are not going to be what you were, to have the job you had, to have the relationships you had... So you let yourself be dragged along, the years go by and you realize that your place is going to be on the street. You lose hope.

-How important is alcohol in this process?

-Alcohol is determinant to fall into the street and also to endure in it, to endure the memories that torture you. You become an alcoholic without realizing it. And the more obvious the situation in which you find yourself, the worse you become. It becomes like a fish that bites its own tail.

-What is the city like for a homeless person?

-It's all hostile. You realize that you are a nuisance to people, that you make them uncomfortable. Not to mention if you approach them, even with all the good manners in the world, to ask them for a handout. Not even in my worst nightmares had it crossed my mind to see myself like that. Visually, by the way you look, poorly dressed and with long hair and beards, you are already worthy of suspicion.

-Does this suspicion seem normal to you?

-It's not fair, but it is normal. Everything that is strange to us provokes in us a feeling of caution. And this is what happens when a person loaded with bags, with long beards, who may even smell bad and who is carrying a bottle or a half-camouflaged carton is in a place where everyone is dressed to go to work or to go to see the bride. But not everyone demonizes you for looking like that.

-Are there also sympathetic people?

-Yes, but you have to decide whether people who look at you with contempt and think you are a wreck of a person or charitable people cause more pain. People who come to help you with a handout and want to encourage you soften you up and what they do is make you sink deeper. They make you even more aware of your ruin.

-Maybe they provoke pain but they help you to continue feeling like a "person"?

-Exactly. They take away the strength and momentum that keeps you going with the help of wine. They weaken you. But at the same time they keep you feeling human, because there are looks that look at you as if you were already dead. They are looks that... I don't know how they look at you and I don't know why. It's irrational. Maybe it's the fear of unknown people.

-Do we live in two different worlds?

-When you are on the street you have the feeling that you are in a parallel world. When I was with other homeless people, we were like a group and then there was the rest of the people, the normal world. You try to go unnoticed and not bother anyone, but you see that two completely different worlds are passing by. For some people the years go by, they continue with their work, family, children... but you are still standing still in time.

-What is it like to live on the street?

-Living on the street entails a great physical deterioration. Little by little you get sick from the humidity of sleeping on the ground and from poor nutrition, because many alcoholics also stop eating. You are in such a state that the way of the cross is enormous.

-You are also exposed to aggressions.

-Some guys broke my nasal septum at the Maremagnum. I guess they had nothing better to do. They didn't rob me or anything. They were two young, polite boys, who made conversation with me and, as they left, they pulled a cobblestone from somewhere, broke my nasal septum and left laughing. I had heard that they beat up or even kill homeless people, but when it touches you you see that the danger is real and that you are risking your life. On weekends people get up to their asses, go out, see a person lying around... and invite them. It's crazy like that, but unfortunately it exists.

-Is there camaraderie among people living on the street?

-There are friends of circumstance and a certain camaraderie. If you stay with someone for the night in a square, you share wine and cigarettes. But being people who are used to being on the side of everything, people disappear without giving explanations. There are no explanations to be given. There are also ties of friendship and affection in specific cases, but not in general as if it were a brotherhood.

-And solidarity?

-What does happen among the indigent is sharing wine. It's all very well to share a sandwich, but for an alcoholic to take away his wine to share it, that's a real problem. The monkey that you don't have, he eats it because he thinks you need it more. It is an altruism that, if I think about it, I'm going to cry, and I don't do comedy before anyone. Sometimes, the people who give you alms told me not to spend it on wine. I told them that I would spend it on whatever I needed. Those people don't know that wine is the only thing that keeps you on your feet, that keeps you from going crazy and the memories inside you from destroying you.

-In your album you talk about the point of no return towards madness. How did you manage to cross it?

-I don't know because I didn't reach that point. There are colleagues who are still in psychiatric hospitals and I don't know if they will get out. I was trying to continue being myself. One of the things that helped me was going to sleep behind Tibidabo, in Collserola. I needed to be alone to recover and recharge my batteries. Because, if you sleep in the ATMs or in other places, you meet other people who also carry their tragedy and you pass it on to each other. In the forest I felt freer, even though I was a slave to alcohol.

-Did you think about your memories?


-What were you thinking about?

-You think about whether it's worth the punishment, you feel guilty for the bad answers you may have given and you also feel resentment. Sometimes you think about the people who know you are on the street, you wonder if they remember you and if they were worth it because they said they were your friends. But then you realize that they have offered you help and you have run away. Then you turn your resentment not towards them but towards yourself. And that destroys and weakens you.

Part of this interview was for research purposes, Luis was always coherent when answering, it seemed more like he was destitute due to external causes than internal, he knew what was happening at all times, after this interview, I contacted some friends who I knew could help him, integrating and rehabilitating him was my top priority, Luis deserved to have a second chance, luckily those good contacts were useful, I could see Luis again and hear his response to his new life.

-After all the time you've spent drinking, holding that line so you don't go crazy, living on drugs and cotton wool, seeing everything through a nebulous spider's web, when you wake up you realize the things that really hurt you and the pain you caused to people who wanted to help you. Seeing this completely sober is much harder. On the street you weren't out for trifles because you were trying to save your life every day, not pass out and fall into a corner where you could get eaten by dogs. In reviewing all those irreparable mistakes you have to try to make peace with yourself. Energy and vitality must be a genetic thing. My doctor is appalled. He looks at me and recommends that I donate my body to science. But even though I am in good health and excited about this project, I have reached an age where my world has ceased to exist. I have missed out on experiences like watching movies or going to the theater. They talk to me about them and it's as if I had just arrived.

Here I had the opportunity to meet a man with a story that is hard for many to believe, more so than for him. Jose David told what it was like to live as a family on the streets.

"In my family. When one sleeps the other takes care, and when one takes care the other sleeps. If one hears a noise he calls the one who is resting. And so on. We eat together, we sneak out together, we do drugs together, we sell together... During the day, each one does his own thing and then we meet up. They live together in Paseo Cabriales, Valencia, Carabobo, next to the Guerra Mendez clinic.

David is more of the shouting and passing comments. He approaches, says something nice and something rather intimidating and leaves. He has that kind of humor that you never know when it will turn into anger. Frank on the other hand is calmer, he likes to chat, to tell his things. "I've been on the street for many years. But what will it be, it's what happens," he says.

How is life on the street?

And... now it's better because I'm overcoming a very big consumption. I'm going to a detox center. A rehabilitation dining room, where I eat, bathe and meet with social psychologists.

What were you using?

Marijuana. But I haven't been using for about two and a half weeks.

How did you get there?

On the street. I was using marijuana, and marijuana led me to the base and so on.

And why did you get into marijuana?

And... you get to the drugstore, my friend. You go and buy and that's it.

Why do you think you fell for it?

Because of your mates, or at least that's what I thought they were, and one day one of them takes out a bag and you start drinking. And when it's hard to get the drugs, you go to where you can get them cheap.

Why use? What does it give you?

It takes away the problems you have in your life. You use and it takes away the bad thoughts. We all have problems, the difference is that some of us don't know how to deal with them and we get into a hole from which it is very difficult to get out, at least without expert help.

Today, I can say that I am a totally different person, I managed to overcome stressful situations and look for better solutions to problems, living on the streets was a very hard experience, I was able to know both realities and definitely today and always I stay with this new reality that I am living, I do not want to fall back into that world.

Part of these interviews, does not have the real name of the people described above all to take care of their image and avoid any damage, also the publication of these interviews has been accepted by each of the people mentioned, for them it is better for the world to know their stories and they can also make better decisions in life, much of what they lived, is lived by millions of people around the world, the only thing they want is not to be denied the helping hand and it is not about giving food, we can give more than that, we can help to rehabilitate all these people with love and patience and a lot of perseverance we can achieve it, have a happy day.

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Avatar for Amorporelllano
2 years ago