Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Big Issue

Nate and I absolutely love living in London. We are having the time of our lives. The parks are gorgeous, the theater is fantastic, the different cultures are so interesting.....the list could go on and on. The one thing that kills me about living here though is all of the homeless people. They are everywhere. They live in the telephone booths, they sleep on the road under cardboard boxes and tarps, they are constantly begging for "spare change". We live right in central London, so we see them all the time. It kills me to know that there are so many people around that are so depressed and have so little.

There is a program here that was set up to benefit the homeless people called, "The Big Issue Magazine." Homeless people stand outside of stores, on the sidewalks, everywhere, and sell this magazine. It is set up to get them back on their feet and out of the homeless cycle. They buy a stack of magazines and then sell them for more money. It is intended for them to be be actually selling something for money instead of just begging for it....which helps them feel more civil and worthwhile.
So yesterday after work, I went to the Whole Foods in Kennsington because I needed to get a few things. I got my groceries and started walking back towards the Tesco to pick up a few more things for dinner. I saw a lady selling The Big Issue on the sidewalk that I was walking on. I didn't think much of it. I walked by her, glanced at her and kept on walking, like I usually do. I have never bought one before and thought I probably never would.....not because I didn't want to, but because we are poor college students and need every cent that we make. Plus, I know that we give other ways through our church and things. Plus, I justify to myself that if anything, I should give them food instead of money because the likeliness of them buying drugs or alcohol with the money that they get is high.
But as I glanced at this lady, something hit me. I knew that I needed to stop. So since I already passed her, I stood behind a telephone booth to check and make sure I had the extra change. There was just something different about this lady. Her eyes pierced into me like she was crying out for help. I think she got to me because she was young, close to my age, and just the look in her eyes.....she looked so dejected and full of sorrow. She looked like she has been through so much in her life, more than I could ever imagine. I knew that I needed to buy one from her and it would probably make her day.
So yeah.....I caved.....I bought The Big Issue....
And let me tell is a pretty stupid magazine. There are maybe like 2 pages in the entire thing that interest me. It definitely wasn't worth the $2.50 pence that I paid, but hey! At least I made that lady a little happier and hopefully that can contribute to her getting back into non-homeless-ness.

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