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One day, I chanced upon this remarkable person on a sidewalk, focused on reading his book, and it touched my heart somehow (sorry my mobile phone couldn’t focus from a distance as we drove by).

I have once seen a viral video of a “homeless” man who befriended a married couple. They found him to be highly intellectual and well-versed in daily conversations. After some discreet investigation they found his long lost family still searching after 20 years. They offered to reunite him with his overjoyed family. He remained in contact and is now finishing a degree in the university because he wanted to help the less fortunate people.

In an interview he says that a good percentage of “homeless” people you meet on the streets are intelligent ones devoid of opportunities, or who walked out from homes. Not everyone has been through personal failings, drug use, or extreme poverty.

I have also read that while the “homeless” is still widely used as a collective noun, it now causes a stir among advocates as a negative term, that it dehumanizes their identity as a stigmatized group.

Through evolution and cultural shifts, many words which used to be harmless euphemism have now evolved into discriminating insults and slurs when spoken (example, in my generation we call boys’ haircut as skinhead, and now it also refers to members of a violent youth subculture with racist beliefs!).

Added into our ever shifting vocabulary and dictionary, “homeless” is now being replaced by less harsh and more appropriate terms like “unhoused”, “unsheltered”, “houseless” and “people without homes”, with emphasis on a temporary condition and positive connotation.

Which brings me back to this man on the street. I felt a story here. A former professor perhaps? A desolate man out of work, robbed of home? A genius pushed to the brink with mental health issues? It would have been nice to sit down with him, share bread and a conversation (much like Keanu Reeves having coffee with such a man on the street).

We often discover interesting people with stories this way. If we replace caution and distrust with compassion and empathy, we can all take one step further and just simply connect with kindness.

© Jojie Alcantara 2023

This entry was posted in: Photography


Jojie Alcantara travels, writes and shoots for publications, blogs and commissioned assignments. This Davao-based multi-awarded photojournalist and artist gives photography and creative writing workshops, shoots aerial, paints, and seeks stories of human interest and inspiration in popular attractions, offbeat places and unexpected locations, in several countries.

Reach out and make me smile! :-)

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