Meditation Focus #33
The Plight of Homeless People Around the World
Web posted on February 15, 2001 for the 2 consecutive weeks
beginning Sunday, February 18, 2001
What follows is the 33rd Meditation Focus suggested for the two consecutive weeks beginning Sunday, February 18, 2001.
THE PLIGHT OF HOMELESS PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD
2. Meditation times
3. More information on this Meditation Focus
IMPORTANT NOTE: Exceptionally, the next Meditation Focus will be emailed sometime during the evening of Saturday, March 3. Please make sure to check your emails at least a couple hours before the usual Meditation time on Sunday to find out what the subject will be. If for some reason, you do not receive in time the next Meditation Focus, please simply dedicate your meditation to world peace.
Since times immemorial, man has had to face 3 major challenges to ensure his survival: getting something to eat and drink every day, finding a shelter against the wild elements of nature, and procreating to perpetuate his species. One would think that nowadays, with the progress of science and technology and the establishment of various kinds of social safety nets to help people in need of assistance, such difficulties would now be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, it is far from being the case. Even in the best of economic times, amidst the richest societies on Earth, millions of people have no other choice but to live on the street and to depend on the charity of others for their most basic needs of food and shelter. Despite the best efforts of governments and all kinds of private organizations providing as much assistance as they can, the problem only seems to worsen with each passing day. The reasons why people end up in such a dire situation are numerous, but center mostly about the systemic and economic inequities that maintain so many people in abject poverty.
On the other hand, there are also tens of millions of people around the world who have been made refugees - and thus homeless in most cases - and forced to live in squalid conditions because of wars, violence and a great variety of other causes. Overall, nearly one billion people on Earth are the victims of some form of war calamities or social and economic injustice and are thus forced to live like animals, barely clinging to life, every day being a cruel and desperate fight for survival amidst disease, the constant threat of hunger and the deprivation of their most basic human dignity.
Please dedicate your meditations and prayers, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks to help awaken in every soul the spirit of compassion and solidarity towards all human beings, no matter their social condition and color, so that we can all share more evenly the bounties of Nature and make sure everyone, in the very near future, will be provided with the minimum basic necessities of life, including enough food to not be hungry every day, clean and safe water to not be thirsty and ill, appropriate shelter to be protected against the extremes of nature, and a secure, peaceful and healthy environment to be able to raise a small family, live long and prosper, for the Highest Good of All.
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage 7:00 AM -- Los Angeles 8:00 AM -- Denver 9:00 AM -- San Salvador, Mexico City, Houston & Chicago 10:00 AM -- New York, Toronto & Montreal 11:00 AM -- Halifax, Santo Domingo, La Paz & Caracas 12:00 PM -- Montevideo, Asuncion * & Santiago * 1:00 PM -- Rio de Janeiro * 2:00 PM -- London, Dublin, Lisbon, Reykjavik & Casablanca 4:00 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Paris & Madrid 5:00 PM -- Ankara, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Athens, Helsinki & Istanbul 6:00 PM -- Baghdad, Moscow & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Tehran 7:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 AM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington * +5:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time. * means the place is observing daylight saving time(DST) at the moment.
3. MORE INFORMATION ON THIS WEEK'S FOCUS
This section is for those who wish to understand in more detail the situation of this week's Meditation Focus. For those who wish to read on, we would encourage you to view the following information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision you wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of healing. We provide the details below because we recognise that the knowledge of what needs healing can assist us to structure our awareness to maximise our healing effect.
Why Are People Homeless? (In the U.S.)
NCH Fact Sheet #1
Published by the National Coalition for the Homeless, June 1999
Two trends are largely responsible for the rise in homelessness over the past 15-20 years: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty. Below is an overview of current poverty and housing statistics, as well as additional factors contributing to homelessness.
How Many People Experience Homelessness?
NCH Fact Sheet #2
Many people call or write the National Coalition for the Homeless to ask about the number of homeless people in the United States. There is no easy answer to this question, and in fact, the question itself is misleading. In most cases, homelessness is a temporary circumstance -- not a permanent condition. A more appropriate measure of the magnitude of homelessness is therefore the number of people who experience homelessness over time, not the number of "homeless people."
A second study was undertaken in 1994 to refine the analysis with more explicit definitions and detailed information. This study found that 6.5% (12 million adults nationwide) of the respondents had been literally homeless at some point in their lives, and that 3.6% (6.6 million adults nationwide) of the respondents had experienced homelessness (literal or doubled up) between 1989-1994 (Link et al., 1995). Thus, it appears that 12 million of the adult residents of the U.S. have been literally homeless at some point in their lives.
IS HOMELESSNESS INCREASING?
One limited measure of the growth in homelessness is the increase in the number of shelter beds over time. A 1991 study examined homelessness "rates" (the number of shelter beds in a city divided by the city's population) in 182 U.S. cities with populations over 100,000. The study found that homelessness rates tripled between 1981 and 1989 for the 182 cities as a group (Burt, 1997).
A 1997 review of research conducted over the past decade (1987-1997) in 11 communities and 4 states found that shelter capacity more than doubled in nine communities and three states during that time period (National Coalition for the Homeless, 1997). In two communities and two states, shelter capacity tripled over the decade.
These numbers are useful for measuring the growth in demand for shelter beds (and the resources made available to respond to that growth) over time. They indicate a dramatic increase in homelessness in the United States over the past two decades.
By its very nature, homelessness is impossible to measure with 100% accuracy. More important than knowing the precise number of people who experience homelessness is our progress in ending it. Recent studies suggest that the United States generates homelessness at a much higher rate than previously thought. Our task in ending homelessness is thus more important now than ever.
Who is Homeless?
NCH Fact Sheet #3
This fact sheet reviews definitions of homelessness and describes the demographic characteristics of persons who experience homelessness. CLIP
What YOU Can Do
While the causes of homelessness are complex, there is much an individual can do to help. No matter what your skills, interests, or resources, there are ways you can make a difference for some of the men, women, and children who are homeless. Volunteer work, advocacy efforts, and contributions of money, clothes, food, and services are all important and needed. Listed below are many suggestions.
"Any person or family that, without any direct fault on his or her part, does not have suitable housing is the victim of an injustice."
In Depth coverage about Homelessness at:
54 Ways You Can Help The Homeless - includes insight on what to do when confronted by homeless people, on donating money, how to volunteer to help, and more. By Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff.
LOTS OF EXCELLENT RESOURCES ON HOMELESSNESS AROUND THE WORLD AT:
See also "Are we winning the fight against homelessness?" at:
Conflict and Refugees on The World Wide Web (LOTS OF RESOURCES ABOUT REFUGEES)
See also the most comprehension website of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees at:
Map- and text-based access to country-specific information about refugees.
THE FOLLOWING LETTER HAS POINTED US TOWARDS SELECTING THIS ISSUE FOR THIS FOCUS
From: "Harmony Foster Kieding" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2001
Most of my energy these days goes into being a homeless advocate - and I find it challenging enough to elevate society's consciousness about the origins and causes of homelessness.
Most people simply dismiss the homeless as drunken, drugged bums - when the reality is a different story. All over the world, thanks mainly to the Homeless People's Network,
Homeless People's Network
The reports are coming in. From Canada. From the US. From Australia, Japan, India, the UK- A global portrait of increasing homelessness is emerging due to a combination of low-paying jobs and lack of affordable housing. Every day people are literally being sent out onto the streets. So many people are at the poverty level, that it doesn't take much to go that one step further into homelessness. Want an example?
The Guardian index: Poverty in San Francisco - may 24th, 2000
Case in point: one of my online friends in icq innocently said to me "But I thought the homeless wanted to be homeless".
I spent the remainder of our conversation enlightening her. The savage atrocities committed against homeless people should be a concern for any human rights organization. I wish that the United Nations would go into some of the "First World" countries for a change and see that the homeless citizens' rights are upheld. After all, the UN did come out with a "Universal Declaration of Human Rights"
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
As I scan that document, I can see any number of Articles in which homeless people's rights are violated.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."
Homeless people are arrested and subjugated to fines and fees which further increase the difficulty of their circumstances.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property."
Homeless people's possessions are seized all the time, frequently taking the last, few irreplaceable things that they needed to survive.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
Homeless people are now, in some shelters, coerced into prayers or religious practices not of their own choosing simply to get shelter for the night or a meal.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection."
There are more homeless families than ever out on the streets.
I cite but a few of the many articles in which the rights of the homeless are violated on a daily basis.
I think FreeDonation.com states the situation very well, so I am quoting from them, now:
FreeDonation.com-House the Homeless
"Homelessness and poverty are tightly linked. People who are living in poverty often must choose between food, shelter and other basic needs. For the poor, an accident, a medical crisis, a lost paycheck can all translate into not having a place to call home next week.
It has been said that every human being has a primary and fundamental right to adequate food and shelter. Yet so many people in our world are deprived of this basic right. This right of feeling a warm bed at night, in a place called home."
Your sister in spirit,
EXCELLENT RESOURCES TO EXPLORE IN HARMONY'S WEBSITE BELOW
Homeless Resources & Humanitarian Causes
Is a Homeless Start Page
Is a Center for help/info on homelessness & human rights
WorldHome networks for increased Internet Access for all
WorldHome networks to raise public awareness about Internet's potential to both effectively co-ordinate help for the homeless, and to better enable the homeless to help themselves through improved communications with friends, family, prospective employers and national, state, and community resources. WorldHome promotes Alternative Architectural Solutions for Affordable Housing
Under "Navigational Links" (at bottom of page) WorldHome has over 200 resource-links, including many of the best-known sites on homelessness on the Internet.
OTHER RELATED INFORMATION
WFP Says More Aid Needed for Quake-Hit El Salvador (Reuters)
The U.N.'s World Food Program appealed Thursday for additional international aid to help feed more than 100,000 people left homeless and hungry in El Salvador following two major earthquakes there in the space of a month. CLIP
Chechen War Leaves 400,000 Refugees (Associated Press)
NAZRAN, Russia (AP) - About 401,700 people - 40 percent of Chechnya's population - have been made refugees by the current war in the breakaway republic, Russian officials said Thursday. Russian officials have previously been evasive about releasing data on the refugees. The Russian government's press center, quoted by the Interfax news agency, said about 234,000 people were made homeless because of the war, but have remained on the territory of Chechnya living with relatives or in five refugee camps. Another 122,500 live in the neighboring Russian region of Ingushetia, the report said. Many have been living in tent camps in Ingushetia for most of the 16-month-old war.
In Depth coverage about Chechnya conflict at:
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