Amjed. Giving homelessness a name and a face.

Please click on this link first to watch this short video of a beautiful act of generosity.

Homeless man receives home

Having watched the video of this generous act of kindness initiated by one that dramatically changed the life of another, I was overwhelmed by emotion and a feeling deep inside me, wanting to help some one like that. It was less than an hour later , while I was sitting in the park, happily reading my book, when I was approached by Amjed. In my peripheral vision I saw him approach but I kept my head down not wanting to be disturbed. He spoke to me. I pretended not to hear. ‘Hola,’ he said again, and this time I looked up. He sat down beside me, much to my dismay and struggled to find words to communicate, not surprisingly, as Amjed is from Pakistan.

My initial reaction was to politely nod and smile and return to my book but then I saw the emotions and sadness across this strange mans face as he rambled unintelligibly and pointed to his dust covered shoes. I could see he needed some one to talk to, some one to listen, some one to be his friend so I put the book away and gave him my full attention.
Amjed, came here to Barcelona 12 days ago. I met him on the 5th day. Having lost his nice office job in Pakistan due to the company closing, he received a phone call from a fellow countryman living in Barcelona, offering him a job. With all his savings, he booked a one way flight, said goodbye to his mother and two sisters and off he went in search of a new life, one that could support him and his family in Pakistan. Upon his arrival, the number of his friend was disconnected and he has no other contact information for him and so he is alone with no friends here in Barcelona.
This exchange of information was mostly conveyed through the use of body language and hand actions as his level of English is minimal and Spanish is non existent. He showed me a photo of his family and his home in Pakistan. He explained that he has no papers to work here and despite spending all day walking around Barcelona in search of work, he is unable to find a job as he has no legal rights to work here and cannot speak Spanish. I gave him the number and address of the Pakistan embassy here which were closed for the weekend so I told him to ring on Monday, hoping that they could speak to him in Urdu, his own language and assist him in finding work. He was so grateful he cried and I hugged him. It was obvious he hadn’t had the luxury of a shower in a while but I let him hug me as long as he wanted and tried to send him calming positive energy and strength to get him through this tough time. I wanted to help so much more but felt a bit helpless so I tried convincing myself that listening to him and talking to him had already helped him feel less alone in this unfamiliar city of strangers. I gave him hope.

Almost a week later, today, I met him again in the park. He had been unsuccessful in his attempt to receive help from the embassy. I asked him would he just go back to Pakistan but he explained that there are no jobs there and he doesn’t have the money to go home. He had rang his mother to tell her there are no jobs here and she cried. He said he has walked and walked in search of a job but I understand that it is near impossible to get a job here if he doesn’t have the language skills to even ask for a job. His money ran out quickly and he is now sleeping in the park beside my apartment and a local shop is letting him keep his bag there. My heart is struggling with the sadness of his situation,wanting to help, but not sure how. I decided I would start by teaching him English and today, in his little milka chocolate notebook, we started with some greetings and the questions. He was eager to learn and picked it up quickly, although it was a little funny explaining the words I and you, while pointing to myself and then him, making him think he should use the word you for himself and I for me! We spoke (tried to) for ages and he told me he is good at bowling and he showed me a little game you play with your hands, again, reinforcing his poor background where they entertain themselves with nothing but their hands.

I spoke to a Spanish employee lawyer today, that informed me legal work rights can only be given to people who prove that they have been here illegally for three years and have integrated well into the Catalan society. What options does that leave for my poor friend Amjed? I could just appease myself with thoughts that I’ve done what I can to help and there’s nothing else I can do, but I cannot. This is a lovely man with a gentle soul, who has fallen victim to unfortunate circumstances. I have always wanted to make the world a better place and I feel that the universe orchestrated it so that our paths would cross so I can help him. He is not begging or stealing, nor has he ever asked me for anything, but I wonder how long until homelessness results in those desperate measures and will he become one of the many people I see every day searching the rubbish bins on the streets of Barcelona?

I would really appreciate any advice in how I can help or what I should do to help this man get back on his feet. I know he would work harder than anyone I know and really deserves to be helped.

A walk in the park

image As I relaxed on my balcony enjoying the warm evenings sun, I casually observed the goings on below me. Several older women, all accessorised with small dogs had stopped to chat on the path and a few cars driving by. A peaceful scene by all means until my thoughts were interrupted by an incessant drumbeat, which actually sounded like a marching band, so I decided to investigate. Upon entering the park, it was clear that from above, the leafy branches of the palm trees cleverly disguised the hive of activity that happening right underneath me. I located the source of the band music which was coming from a practice room under the ground. I decided to sit for awhile and enjoy the music while observing some girls training hard, a little boy blowing bubbles and a few adults rollerblading, beside a large colourful monument. On my walk home I saw the dog enclosure in the park was full of people and their dogs while others sat at the little cafe drinking coffee. A father and his sons practised their basketball skills while moms kept a close eye on their children in the playground. Large groups of people gathered around a game of kickball (like netball I believe) and cheered for their favourite team. Lone joggers expertly weaved themselves between these crowds as they continued their daily exercise routine. Students, with their arms full of books, leaving the library after a hard day of studying. So much was happening here, in this little park, that I was oblivious to from above, in the comfort of my own balcony. It made me think about how life is like that. When we are too busy being caught up in our own lives we miss the beauty of life that constantly surrounds us. Happiness comes from the small things in life so let’s try not to forget to come down from our balconies every once in awhile and enjoy the experiences life has to offer in the small things. 20140507-105056.jpg 20140507-105047.jpg 20140507-105110.jpg 20140507-105128.jpg 20140507-105142.jpg 20140507-105417.jpg

Today’s challenge: Me v.s. Maps

Map of Barcelona This is my new home… And my navigational aid to help me find my way around. Who am I kidding? What bother with maps when you have a phone with google maps?! I do have a map in my bag just in case, as my battery never lasts more than a few hours :/ Anyway, after three days here I figure I have the metro all figured out so I decided to take the train on my shopping expedition, as a challenge. Although both the metro and train only take a few minutes I had to wait more than five minutes for the train to leave so next time I’ll be taking the metro! Now where was the train bringing me to, only on my very first visit to Ikea. Wow is all I can say. Despite my previous post on the advantages of not having lots of ‘stuff’ and proving this by moving here with only 15kg of luggage, I must admit I was very tempted to go crazy and buy everything within reach, especially everything pink, orange, fluffy or shiny lol! And if I thought the city map was a challenge, I was give a rude awakening when I was given the map of the store. I spent well over an hour trawling my way though hundreds of people, exasperated at how they were all getting in my way… Only to realise at the end I was going the wrong way all along oppsy 🙂 And if you’re curious, I did escape relatively intact with just one (large) bag of ‘essentials’ for my new home. Now I must put it all together. Happy weekend everyone 🙂

Map of IKEA

There’s no such thing as luck

Hola 🙂

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This is my first post written from my new home, Barcelona. It’s been two days since I arrived and I really feel I have a good grasp of the city so far. It’s sprawling neighbourhoods, each with a distinct look and feel, gave me many attractive options to choose from when looking for a new home, but perhaps too many. Do I want to be near the beach? The city? A bit further out to escape the busy city? Needless to say, the task of looking for an apartment in a strange city in a language I don’t actually speak, posed a difficult challenge. The offer of a job in ibiza for the summer, just two nights previous, played in the back of my mind, while I tried to deal with the daunting task at hand. Obviously, it was an appealing option. Beautiful beaches, lots of friends, familiar places and amazing nightlife. Why wouldn’t I jump at the chance to go back? I really was tempted. But I knew that by over thinking the situation it would just make the decision harder, so I explored the city, wandered the carreterra and relaxed in the parks. It was while I was writing in the park, soaking up the suns heat and enjoying the ongoings around me like yoga and language exchange meetings, that I realised there was no decision to be made. I’m here. I’m happy to be here so I’m staying. It’s always difficult settling in but once it’s done then I have a whole summer of great times ahead. imageI really don’t believe life should be a struggle. Try your best but really it’s not meant to difficult. Life has a way of giving you all the opportunities you need to be happy without a struggle, if you allow yourself to be open to them. Last night I had already seen one apartment, which was tiny and expensive and had still another 3 to see that night and more today. It was getting so confusing trying to remember which was which, I felt quite upset and stressed. It was then I realised how absurd that was and made the decision to no longer feel that way. I am blessed to have the opportunity to live in an new and exciting city. That is not something to be stressed about, only grateful. I realised that I was putting myself under a lot of pressure to find a home straight away with the extra stress thinking that I should be looking for a job also. I am a firm believer that you attract your reality with your thoughts and so by stressing and focusing on how difficult it was to find a place, I knew it was only going to make that a reality, so I decided I was not going to go view the places that night, while I was I feeling upset. If you are in a happy place in your mind, you will attract more things that will make you happy and I mentally reminded myself that the right place would come to me easily, without the stress and hard work. Every circumstance is only as easy or difficult as you perceive it to be. I choose to perceive my experiences as joyful and easy. I woke today and organised to go see one apartment. I figured I’d try the 20/80 rule. 20% of your efforts give 80% of the rewards because I really didn’t want to go running all over the city to the 20 or so places I’d contacted. As luck would have it (even though I don’t believe in luck) the lady showing me the apartment had to leave 10minutes before I got there and so there was no one to show me around when I arrived, after getting the metro and walking for 10 minutes! Of course I didn’t get annoyed, I merely thought it was an interesting occurrence. I decided to explore the neighbourhood and within two minutes I got a txt from an unknown number asking did I want to see the room. I assumed I must’ve emailed them the night before, as there was no conversation history, so without knowing anything about it, I said ya sure, what’s the address? Turns out it was only a ten minute walk away (how convenient!) and so, following google maps, I made my way there. imageI was so impressed as I walked by historical monuments, lovely restaurants and a huge arena and silently hoped I hadn’t got the address wrong. Just around the corner from the main street, was my building, right in front of a large park. Another box ticked, great. The apartment was big, bright and had a lovely balcony overlooking the park. That was all I needed. Where can I sign? I couldn’t and still can’t believe how amazing it is that I got exactly what I wanted and it was only my second apartment having to go see and is a million times better than the first one. I moved in two hours later and since then, I haven’t been able to contain my happiness. I want to share it with everyone. I am so happy I didn’t give up and leave or continue stressing, thinking I needed to go see every apartment to make the best decision. Life is meant to be enjoyed. The right things will flow to you easily if you allow them. And then the icing on the cake. I sent a message to all the others, explaining I no longer needed a place and one guy txt back asking where I was from. I noticed I had saved his number as ‘room please’ and I recalled having found a particularly nice place online and decided that was the one I wanted so I saved it as ‘room please’ to tell the universe that’s the one I wanted… and the universe was obviously listening. I scrolled up through the conversation and noticed that he had given me directions that were quite near here. I laughed, thinking it was funny I had rented so close to the one I asked for. Then it dawned on me. It is the one I asked for. It was his sister who had messaged me and met me to show me the apartment. So without realising it, without a struggle, not only did I find a new home, but I got the home I really wanted. I couldn’t be happier and I am so grateful to the universe for once again providing for me. I think it is very easy to get caught up in a moment of weakness, frustration, trouble and get in a negative flow, but it’s important to realise you will only attract more of the same into your experience by focusing on it. So if I’ve learned anything is that the most important thing in life is to feel good, to feel happy, maintain a positive outlook on life and you will attract everything you want and lead the life of your dreams.