Until recently, I didn’t know about the existence of homeless in Gothenburg.
I’ve seen beggars at bus stops and supermarkets in every corner of the downtown but they were gone by night. I had never seen people sleeping in cardboard boxes or blue tarps here as in Japan.
However, “not seeing homeless’s home” doesn’t mean there is no homeless.
In December, I found an event on Facebook by Göteborgs Räddningsmission which looked for some volunteers for the night open churches for homeless people. Reading it I was slightly shocked.
In Japan, I have seen people sleeping in cardboard boxes and blue tarps along Tama River, in the parks around ICU, on the streets around Shinjuku station, Kamagasaki area in Osaka, and more. Most of the times I just had to pass them by, but twice in my life when I was 11 and 21 years old, I involved in them at “soup-run” in Kamagasaki and in Mitaka . When I met them, I got to know that they were normal people or even more kind and humble than me, who just happened to drop off from the social and human networks. Some used to have wives and children, some had problems with money, some had no job, but all of them were just a human being who needed foods, warmth and someone to talk to.
Remembering those people, I decided to register myself at the volunteer work. The shift, every night from 21 o’clock to 23:30 for three months, was easily booked via online and quickly filled by many volunteers. I got to work one night at Carl Johan church and one at Oscar Fredrik church.
There came about 20 people each night. They looked like Roma, African, European, and Asian, some were in a group and some were alone, some were young and some were middle-aged. Volunteers prepared coffee, tea and cookies, and gave them a set of bedding (a yoga mat, two or three blankets, and a pillow). People found space between the benches and passages, and soon they made some echoing snores under the church roofs.
Why there is such a social problem in Japan and in Sweden is difficult to write here now as I am no expert. The reason why I write about it here is because I want to let more people know the existence of homeless and also what you can do if you want to do something.
If you want to know more about the organization which help homeless in Gothenburg, check Göteborgs Räddningsmission. They accept donations and volunteers. You can use their secondhand shop too to support their activities.
5 Swedish verbs from the article Göteborgskyrkor har nattöppet för hemlösa i vinter
- Att öppna (öppnar-öppnade-öppnat): To open sth.
- Att erbjuda (erbjuder-erbjöd-erbjudit): To offer sth.
- Att behöva (behöver-behövde-behövt): To need sth.
- Att äta (äter-åt-ätit): To eat sth.
- Att frysa (fryser-frös-frusit): To freeze.