What is the difference between a homeless and a traveler?

A woman and a boy sleeping on a the aligned chairs of an airport

Here I tell you my thoughts about this topic and also my experiences.
I have been going around as a nomad for years and even television and newspaper wrote about me regarded as a homeless.

 

While traveling, aren’t we homeless?

We may have an ‘home’ somewhere, but it’s also possible that we are traveling for long and we have given it away or have no access to it anymore.
Even an homeless may have an home or a family somewhere in the world, but it does not make the situation better, they may have been victim or family abuse or similar problems.

The society accepts us, travelers, probably because we are seen as people with money to spend, we (often)have a temporary accommodation, we don’t seem sad and we will ‘leave soon’; or so is supposed to be.

Even if you are in such a unstable situation as not being in your country, when you are a traveler you are not feeling down because you are enjoying the trip.
During my trips I have often crossed my road with homeless persons, sometimes I have heard their story and tried to help, but I have never done enough I guess.
Being with limited financial capabilities and without a roof on you head of course is one of the worst situations that can happen.
The feeling of being without a place is hard to understand if you don’t experience it.

That’s why I spent awhile without contacting any host (or hostel) and relied on nature or goodwill of randomly met people.


–I got some interviews from national Finnish media, which are maybe the most honest medias of the world, still they where not really accurate and I seemed as a desperate in the pictures. So try to imagine what kind of disruption, or destruction, of reality media from other countries would show you.–

From one’s point of view this kind of lifestyle can be called “Absolute Freedom”,  from another perspective it could be a nightmare for many others.
Is hard, sad and humiliating to be in such a situation where you have no money to pay a rent, where you are in the street, in the cold (sometimes freezing and rainy), looking for shelter and food.
People and institution, especially in western-northern countries, are keen to help you, but not always, not in the way one needs.
Mostly the help you get is a superficial or materialistic aid: a shelter for few days–oftentimes you need even  to pay for it–a bit of food, some compassionate words.

I think that who is in the street needs, of course, first of all a shelter and food, but, immediately after he needs more than this.
Because the reason why he/she–or “han”, in the non-sexist Finnish language–is in the street can be often a psychological one, I guess that someone is there cause he does not feel  “cared for”, and probably didn’t connect strongly enough with others or something special.

The more in need, the less help

Would’t you think that when someone is in the street, without a place where to go, other people would help him?
Would it not be rational, logic and fair to see resources, good will and care for who needs it?
Surprisingly enough, many people DON’T help. Often it happens that the more the person needs help, the less he gets it.
We love to help people like us, people that has something in common with us. So, who would admit to himself to have something in common with an homeless or a ‘poor’ person?
Probably not plenty people would think that and this makes people refraining from getting any close to the ones most in need.


I was “homeless” myself and I felt down, even if I have mostly a strong character and I am a social person


Article on a popular national Finnish newspaper ‘Helsingin Sanomat’

I did an experiment on myself, I decided to not rent any place and not to rely on money for few months. Later I will write more about the daily life of this period, but now I want to concentrate few lines about the relation homeless/traveler.

The thing that made me having quite much concern about homeless people is that while experiencing myself to be a ‘homeless’, I was feeling down, depressed unsupported, and still I was really lucky because:
I do have a home somewhere in the world,
I do have a family that loves me,
I have friends,
I have social skills,
I know how to survive in extreme situations,
I do have some savings,
I choose to be ‘homeless’, I can ‘opt out’ from my situation in any time,
I have a computer and smartphone in order to get information’s and communicate,
I have all tools to live wherever I am: sleeping bag, sleeping pad,
I am EU Citizen, “sadly” privileged in terms of migration;

…and anyhow I was feeling often extremely weak without my own place where to go.

No home, feeling free?

I had the wish to feel free, I wanted to have no roots and no place to relay on, to be as free as a “bird”.
I was just roaming around, finding a place to sleep on the last moment…
Yes, it could have been funny, it was sometimes.
But in our society, with our level of domestication, we often need to have one place, even a small point, which we account as our space, our “home”.
Missing this place can distress, overwhelm and make us feel highly vulnerable; and so I felt.

Humans = social, or not?

Let’s not forget that Humans are Social Animals, the social component is quite strong, we need constant positive social contacts in order to not get depressed.

Causes of homelessness

In our society we have alcoholism, drugs abuse, gambling, military service, being incarcerated, unhealthy food and other addictions that ruins millions of lives, but after my experience, I would say that what really makes homeless happen are the following:

– Exclusion
Classit society, economical injustice. We all want to be superior to someone else, that’s why we use the homeless as a reason to be proud of ourselves: we are not homeless = we are succeeding better than others(homeless) = we are proud of ourself, even if we are much worse than a homeless as human being.

– Egoism
People address homeless as parasite that want to live for free, not understanding how nice those persons may be and how big troubles they have to get into society.

– Indifference
When we see a homeless, we think that the problem does not belong to us, we often don’t even notice them anymore, people steps on them carelessly, both metaphorically and literally.

– Bureaucracy
Numerous social welfare systems fail to address homelessness, they pretend the homeless would do paperwork– and often–would have documents of the same city where he is, which is the exact reason of the homelessness: People lacking social skills to do paperwork, people moving from one place to another; in other words, the system that we have which should take care of the homeless, is itself the reason of the homelessness. This happens even in countries with great social institutions (Finland, Denmark, Belgium).


Mental health and addictions

Often people in the street have Psychological or alcohol problems, but not always!
Those persons are not harmful, at least most of the times.
Just in few cases they may be hard to approach, in such situations,  well skilled persons–with knowledge of psychology–should get in touch with them. Not Police.

How to help a homeless

What I did myself is started several self-created small projects about helping persons in the streets, I have also joined existing communities, In the Dominica Republic I have met people from Assoartca, a street music school in the street, for everyone.
I have helped a bit with Food Sharing in Copenhagen, which is an organization to share food that would be wasted otherwise.
I made a Small Guide about living with little money and I try to share those information’s with people that needs it.

BE-Cyclo Bike Social Workshop Cafe

One of the next project I am realizing, which will effectively help.
Where people can repair a bicycle by them-self, but the place also provide activities and support to those without a shelter.


Street surfers action, let’s help our friends “host-less”


 

I have organized several times meetings to sensibilize and actively help who is in the street.

It was an event on Couch Surfing, this was written in the meeting page:

“Don’t you think that the people on the street could have been maybe your friends or relatives?
Is not just because I want to be Philanthropic, but because I don’t enjoy myself if people around me don’t do it neither.
It’s cold outside, it’s even colder when people behave indifferent to your problems.

The practical plan of the socio-meetings is:
“We aim at taking someone home for one week (food and accommodation), make him a workaway (woofing or helpex profile) & BeWelcome profile.
Teach them basic urban survival techniques: BeWelcome, Dumpster diving, Hitchhiking, Bicycling (find, buy and use bicycles).

We can see to find a way for them to get to them new au pair host or a new cs host.

If anything happens with your new street csers guests just post it in the event page, other members will jump into the problem to help you (and him eventually).

Of course nobody is forced to do anything, but if we make a strong group we can help each other and win the cause…”
HELPING HOMELESS IS LIKE DATING
To help in the best way a homeless you should should behave as you are in a date. You should approach the person in an non invasive way and start a casual conversation.
It’s relieving for society to think that the homeless is in the street because he chooses to be outside, excluded.
The truth is that we are excluding them.
TREAT THEM AS A FRIEND
You should talk to a homeless just as you are talking to a normal person, like a friend.
Don’t talk in first instance about their problems, first try to get to know them with random talks and just afterwards you can ask a bit about their past.

HELP ONE AT THE TIME
Helping someone means a regular commitment, you should find one person that you wanna help and go regularly to visit, seeing what you can do for him and with the time find possible solution for his homelessness.
A short visit every two-three days is important, you should also first learn about the problems and find out the possible way of helping.
If the person is able to work you could find match on a volunteering website: WorkAway, HelpX, HoVoS.
Someone that needs medical care may need you to bring them to a hospital, eventually you may contact the city council to seek for solutions.
Don’t pretend to find a solution within one day.

While trying to help someone, I noticed that even my phone, which I reputed smart, has no idea about what it means to be a homeless. while I was editing my phone-book I was adding the number of a person from the street, that I met in the street, the phone showed me the number registered as “home number”, ironically it was stored this way, even if this person has no home.
Would a phone mind it?
Would you be smarter than a phone?

DOCUMENTS, PERMISSIONS AND BUREAUCRACY
Every government and institution has some kind of support for people in the street, but in the most of the cases it’s not matching their needs. Often you need not just to be citizen, but also to have the residence in a certain city to get even the smallest support.
We can’t accept those barriers.
This bureaucraZy is the exact reason of homelessness, many don’t go through the paper work or are not allowed to.
We need just to make one rule: Sleeping on a bed is a fundamental human right and regardless of the background of the person, all have the rights to have a bed at least, if not a house!

What is worse? To think without do or to do without thinking?
I am really curious to know your point of you, what is for you the difference between an homeless and a traveler?
Write it in the comment!

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Mamma mia! mamma tua, mamma nostra. Do you have an Italian mother?

Woman talking about religion

Listen to this article

We all know that Italians are considered “Mamma Mia” people, do you know why?
There are many other ‘family-countries’ though, even more conservative, still Italy is the land of the ‘mamma’.
It looks like that people from Italy are the only saying these words, in the most various circumstances. It has been reported that, even when Italian Astronauts are in the space, they have used this sentence.

We could spend long time researching the reasons why those words are used so often and the history of such an attitude which is now a indisputable italian stereotype, but this is not the only matter of this writing.
This is also the story about my Mother.

I don’t know if I can call myself Italian, I mostly say ‘I was made in Italy’, or ‘I am biologically Italian’, but one thing is sure, I do use the expression “mamma mia! ” as well.
I’ve never lost the habit of using that sentence. Because of this, some people makes fun of me (non-italians of course), but I don’t want to force myself to change this way of speaking, if “mamma mia!” comes in my mouth, I let it go.


MIA MAMMA

I didn’t just use to say ‘mamma mia’ as a random exclamation, I used to outcry  those words -or just the first- regularly, every morning, as a kid, when I could not see my mother in range of sight.

While teenager I finally stopped being a “Mammone” suffering of “mammismo” (‘mamma dependence’), not just because of my age going up but also because my mom went away, somewhere, without coming back.
She left in 1998 and even if I feel her presence inside of me, I didn’t materially see her.
When she left I remember that I was about to leave myself, I could not accept the happening.

The bizarre surprise I had, was that in those days, when I was aged 16 and I lost her, I noticed all people around me turning into friends, even long time ‘enemies’ and people whom I was fighting with short before. Those persons were suddenly so kind to me, this was quite distressing.

There was one kid I was regularly playing and arguing with, he waas called “Gennaro”, we had daily contentions because of his habit to kill small insects just to enjoy the action, give pain to harmless creatures and making me upset.


One day Gennaro told me: “If I was in you I would let bury myself in the tomb with my mother… but you didn’t”- blaming me to not have done it. To not have have screamed in the streets.

He was not the only one who had such a way of thinking. In south-Italy the death of a loved one (or even a hated one) is often an misfortune where, if you don’t show your complete desperation to the public, you are seen as somebody who is not suffering and many will think you are a miserable person.
At school and in the neighborhood everybody recommended me to go often to visit the grave, to be a good “christian”.
I didn’t do it.
I don’t think this would please anyone, also because whenever you go to a grave in that area nearby Naples, there is a mafia-system with some individuals ‘taking care’ of the graves, asking you -or forcing you- to give them money (actually Mafia and Mama’s have also some connection, but this is another topic).
I prefer to follow her words: “love me now, not when I will be death”.
My love for her, I will give to what’s next to me, following her words and lifestyle, on my way. Being happy and trying to transmitting positiveness.

She was often talking to me about an Italian book, called “Libro cuore”, telling the story of a group of kids, students, growing up and having adventures, contrasts and loves. It was a patriotic, colonialistic story where the author aimed to give an ‘unified feeling of citizenship’ in the newborn Italian Kingdom.
Strangely enough, Japanese cartoonists made a Manga from that story, a cartoon that was quite popular in Italy, of course (as many other manga’s are), but had nothing to do with Japan.

I thought that if more cartoons were made with ‘worldwide’ patriotism, or in better words, where the attempt of the author is to connect all the citizen of the globe, we would feel as part of one big territory, we would not even need the feel of citizenship or having patriotism-issues anymore.
Many manga’s were actually made where the earth was attacked by exterior evil forces (Mazinga, Goldrake, Daitan, etc…) still, we needed to have someone else to consider outsider, the bed ones, – aliens, etc- , because we never manage to just feel as individual beings in serenity, but we need to group ourselves into one certain category or culture, in order to feel proud of being alive and belonging somewhere.

From the manga’s I also developed an uncommon love towards Japan, which I will reach by Bicycle in some time.


 

MOTHER’S HONESTY

Mamma’s are often considered holy persons, for sure in meridional Europe and in other southern cultures, such as Latin America.

If we look deeper in the ‘Mamma mia’ expression, we could find links to the christian personage of Maria, which is considered by many religions to be the mother of us all, extremely worshiped in Italy (and many other countries).
The Italians use the exclamation ‘Madonna’ as well, which has exactly the same usage of ‘mamma mia’, with some more holy inner etymology of course.
Some say even ‘madonna, mamma mia’ all at once. Those are extremist Mamma Mia people.

Mamma’s are considered honest thus, I don’t know if I can define myself as honest as my mamma, but for sure I aim to not be dishonest, I actually remember a scene with my mother that keeps reminding me to be honest.

I was circa ten years old, me and my mom went to take a metropolitan train, which in Naples area becomes a ‘panoramic’ train, because of the long unaspected stops and delays. We had to ‘jump’ on it fast cause it was about to depart and we didn’t have the time to make a ticket. Nobody checks tickets on that train, also because the quality of the service is really low. My mother made tickets at the station where we get off , afterwards when nobody could have checked. She would feel as a thief if she would not have done it. This may seem normal for someone from north Europe, but in South Italy it’s not.


 

MAMMA TUA

In Puerto Rico I met Jimmy Navarro, I am glad to have met him not just because he is a popular Actor and experienced Theater Artist, but because I felt a good connection with him. Probably because of some similarities in our past.

Most of the few friends, that get really close to me, have lost one of their parents, ironically I get to know it just after a while I met them.
I noticed that I have better relations with persons having a similar sad past as me. Remarkable? Normal? just a Coincidence?

I believe that the common unfortunate family past made me more connected and spiritually aware with those friends.

It’s the ultimate negative experience, when you reach the bottom, thinking nothing can be worse, that gives you the power to understand it was a sacrifice, a loss that will not be filled up with another individual person, but with love for who and what is next to you.


 

A BOOK THAT HELPED ME UNDERSTAND DEATH

It’s not easy to know what to do and how to behave when you face the biological death of loved ones.

A book that helped me understand was: “No fear, No death” – by Thich Nhat Hanh- . In Italian called “Il segreto della pace”. Book that goes profoundly  into understanding that we are one big organism and how life goes in circles…

2015 in review, thanks for following!

My best wishes to all readers of BikeTravelTheater.org , which are surprisely increasing!
For 2016, my New Year’s Resolution is to go more into Bike, Travel and Theater of course.
I have several Social and Artistic projects waiting for me, but also many adventures cycling in the north-east and discovering what street performances are like there!

Cycle & ReCycle 2016!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. My blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The traveller

Traveling with bicycle theater - Keskväljak (Estonia)

The traveller is in some ways weak, he has no ability to joining political life of the visited country, sometimes he has to accept rules and even misbehaviors just because he is the “new” in the country.
But a big duty of the traveller is to inform, to see and report, to use his eyes as security cameras, that will trigger any time some improper happening is seen.

If you love someone…

Vegan sign on a wall in Tallin
Part of a wall in an ex industra area – Tallinn (Estonia)

 

Your father hits you because he loves you.

An animal lover keeps birds in cage because he loves animals.

Lover of dogs keeps them at home because he loves them.

The boyfriend kills the girlfriend cause he loves her.

A bullfighter kills the bull cause he loves bulls.

Armies kill millions of people in name of love for their own people.

I say to myself: If love kills so much, I prefer to hate.

If you love something or someone, you let it be as it is. You love his freedom.

When they know you are a traveler…

On the boat to Tallin
Moving from Helsinki to Tallin

When people knows that you are a traveler, when someone knows that you are going far and they will not see you anymore (or for a long while), they become all exceptionally friendly and kind, helping and supporting you.

It’s like you are a different person if you are traveling, they believe you are good even if they don’t know you…

If you would not have been a traveler all this kindness would not happen.