September 1, 2018 (By Laura & Sebastian) // For a while now we have been thinking how can we reach the homeless communities in Vienna, but we never asked questions like: “How well are we informed about the issue of homelessness? or “Is it enough if we bring some food and clothes? Do they even want strangers to help them? Talk to them? What are their needs anyhow?”
While talking to our friends about this desire to help somehow, one of them advised us to Shades Tours – an NGO which presents the homelessness in Vienna through the eyes of a former or actual homeless person. Being confronted with facts and studies such as why people become homeless in the first place or which criteria do they need to fulfill to receive a bed in winter and not sleep on the streets, definitely opened our eyes to this “sickness” more than ever.
We were both shocked and amazed at the support that the city of Vienna together with several NGOs are offering people on the streets (especially during winter time) and how they care for the needy and the poor people in such a practical way. We thought that the church needs to know about this so we grabbed our friends from church and brought them to the streets not to evangelize but to get informed and be confronted with this topic, to become sensitive to it. When you have a background of knowledge and understand how a certain industry works, it makes it easier to start conversations with people in distress, in need.
Like William Wilberforce once said about slavery, we want to say about homelessness: “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” So we leave you with a challenging question: How often do you pass by a homeless person and look the other way?