For the past four years I’ve been on a journey to learn more about homelessness while also aiming to inspire others to take an interest in helping the homeless. In those years, one of the most common and unexpected realities I’ve encountered is learning how many of the homeless feel voiceless and invisible–ignored by the rest of society. This fact has stuck with me. I sometimes imagine how it might feel voiceless. I wonder what sort of impact that feeling might have on a person’s spirit.
People that know me know that I’m a highly talkative, social person that loves to be connected. In fact my wife constantly tells me that she thinks I’m addicted to Facebook. And of course, every time she says that (and she says it a lot) I would try to deny it, but I would also have my finger on the “post” button, “checking us in” at this or that place or responding to a friend’s comment.
Though I hate to admit it, my wife is right (but please don’t tell her!). For me, facebook has it’s benefits–I should know, I met my wife on Facebook. So I’ve decided to accept my addiction for now. And when I’m not on Facebook, I’d would be on the phone, going out with friends or inviting friends over to our house. Honestly it’s difficult to imagine myself not being socially connected to other people on some level.
I’ve always tried to take my project a bit further–to make a little more of a sacrifice than the previous year. After realizing how important communication is to me and seeing how so many homeless live without feeling like they don’t have a voice, I was inspired to go silent this year while I go homeless for one week. For me, this gesture signifies the thousands of homeless women, children and men who do not possess the social capital or influence to be heard in our society. Those people whose voices are silenced on a daily bases. It also signifies a difficult reality that many homeless people face in addition to their struggle for survival needs. It’s easy to forget how important our social networks are to us–family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and so on. Many homeless people have lost these networks due to various circumstances in their lives leaving feelings of loneliness and isolation. This year, I hope my vow of silence will inspire others to take notice.
I will go homeless without saying a word to anyone beyond the words uttered during prayer for one week, from August 5th to the 11th, in Washington Square Park, with only a pen and notebook for communicating. I plan to spend my week in Washington Square Park sleeping in or around the park and participating in iftars (breaking my fast) and praying right across the street at the New York University Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life at 238 Thompson st., 4th Floor.
Every year I aim to raise $5000 for an organization that does great work to help those that are less fortunate. This year I’ve chosen Muslims Against Hunger (MAH) as the recipient organization. MAH feeds the homeless and hungry in twenty cities across the North East and mainly in the New York, New Jersey area. I met the founder and project director of Muslims Against Hunger, Zamir Hassan an amazing individual who has dedicated his life to helping those in need of a warm meal to eat. This is one of the most deserving non-for-profit organizations I’ve encountered.
After fours years of going homeless this will be my final journey on the streets. I intend to continue my efforts to raise awareness about homelessness, maintaining the Homeless for one week website and blog. Visiting the site you will receive updated videos and interviews about homelessness as well as information on the new direction for the Homeless for One Week initiative. Stay tuned!
I’m hoping to make this year’s homeless for one week project the most successful fundraising event to date! If you’re reading this article please find it in your heart to go to homelessforoneweek.com and make a contribution today. We really need your help and every single donation counts don’t matter how small. This project lives in the hearts and hands of its supporters. Please donate now and help spread the word about this project; doing that will make a world of a difference.
Please take some time to do some research about Muslims Against Hunger to see the great work that they’re doing everyday and make a contribution to help me reach my goal of $5000.
— If you’re interested in sponsoring my project please contact me here, thank you.