The draw of the Streets
I have always been drawn to the Streets and they ﬁll me with such great excitement. I love the constant bustle of noise, the call of the street trader, the shout from people directing buses, and the squeals from children as they run past.
For some the streets are the fumes from the constant polluting vehicles, the smell of urine in a doorway or the cry of someone begging for money.
You can look at the streets in either of these two ways, but for me, I prefer to see the beauty that the streets hold. Five years ago when I ﬁrst came here people lived in the central reservation on the 5th avenue.
5th Avenue in 2014
Since my ﬁrst visit a lot has changed. The government moved the people out and have constructed tall green metal contraptions that are allegedly small businesses. Temporarily displaced, I slowly see how the people have been re-building their homes around the contraptions with basic scrounged items.
I visit a male who resides in a temporary shelter. His partner recently died and because he lives on the Streets, his baby daughter is unable to remain with him. A relief I hear you say, but the person who cares for the baby works during the day so leaves the baby with him. I look inside the shelter and the smell is pungent to say the least. Stale sweat, the familiar unwashed odour and dog smells from the small puppy I glimpsed tangled in some bedding in the corner. Outside the shelter, two people I have known for years are both high on solvents as I observed the drug dealer sell them more. As I spoke openly with the dealer, he told me he was only 21 years old and knew no other way.
As my focus turned back on the baby, the man is quick to tell me the baby is wet because she has spilt some water. He asked me to look at her skin concerned for a rash on her body. As I lifted the baby’s clothes, I could see eczema all over her little body, arms and legs. The heat and ﬁlth of the shelter was no place for this baby to be during the day.
5th Avenue now (2019)
Instinct tells you to take the baby away and be outraged by the situation. But I found myself standing back watching how 3 broken people were trying to protect, care and support each other whilst extending this to looking after a baby. I saw 3 people that needed each other to survive and I saw 3 people who wanted prayer.
God designed us to have community and relationship. When we grow in our relationships with others, we grow in relationship with Him. I see this demonstrated beyond comprehension within a group of people that have very little but each other. But they have God. I am reminded – “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” I am thankful, I am reminded and not judgemental.