Vanuatu, Port Vila
A man came up to me while I was waiting for my train, goodmorning mister, do perhaps please you have some money for me please? I really want to sleep in the shelter tonight, I just need two more euros please sir? Look I already have five, I please just need seven euros to stay in the shelter please, do you have some spare change for me?
I looked into my wallet, I only had a note of 5. I handed it to him, looked at his face, shook his hand and wished him luck. He almost started crying and kept thanking me with words signifying respect for me, barely an adult, years younger than him.
The friend I traveled with looked at me, disbelief and disgust warping her face. He might buy drugs with that!
Well, yeah. Of course he might. It’s his money now. But this man is clearly going through a lot, and while I don’t believe drugs are a good option, they can bring a temporary relief. And I wish him al the relief he can get, be it shelter, food or drugs, if he so wishes. Besides, I am not gonna take this man’s autonomy away from him. To get to the point you need to ask strangers for money, I believe you have gotten quite a lot taken from you already. To let him spend the money on whatever he wished, be it indeed shelter, drugs or something else entirely, is a small bit of ownership over his life, something he probably didn’t have much of.
Another friend nudged me afterwards, when we boarded and the man was out of sight. I wish I had seen him earlier, I would have given him some too.
And we spoke a bit about her experience being poor, needing to rely on others and hand over so much of autonomy you almost lose your humanity. It didn’t get as bad for her as it was for this man, but she related nonetheless. She also told me, if we had kept that money, it was highly likely to be spent on alcohol. Why would we be allowed to buy drugs, and he wouldn’t, just because he’s poor?
montmartre, paris, june 2019
something about palm trees makes me happy
Mt Peter Botte, Australia, July 2016
Winter in Amsterdam
I shuffled away from the activism stuff on the Medium page today, and instead I published a vegan travel piece about my home province back in Canada. If you’d like to know what life as a vegan on the eastern edge of North America in Newfoundland and Labrador is like, then check out the post here.