When I first started working with Children experiencing homelessness, I would never see them month-to-month. I told my Dad it was difficult to get close to the children when I was constantly meeting new ones. He reminded me that I didn’t necessarily want to see them month to month, because that meant that they were still homeless. When we talk about familiarity, we tend to make it seem like a positive adjective. That’s because with familiarity comes comfort, but is this comfort always good? Sometimes it is, but there are many times when comfort comes at a price.
I have been in Uganda for over a month, and I’ve started to get very familiar with my surroundings, with aspects of the language and even with some of the school children. I love this familiarity. I love that the Children see me and recognize me. They might tease me a bit, calling me “En Koko (Chicken)” and flapping their arms like wings, but they recognize me and I recognize them. They stop to talk to me, we sometimes exchange snacks and they always ask to take pictures. This is a situation where familiarity is good.
At the Coalition in Orlando, being familiar with the Children is great because we understand them better and can help them more. This familiarity is somewhat unsettling though, because the more we see the children, the longer it indicates that they have been homeless. I love Charisma’s Crayons, but my dream is that one-day Charisma’s Crayons isn’t necessary, because there aren’t homeless children.
Sometimes we need to stop and ask ourselves are the things we are familiar with good. There have been so many tragedies going on worldwide, and I fear that horrific things are happening so often that we are getting familiar to them. Or as every media outlet loves to say, “desensitized” to the things happening around us. It seems that every week there is another; mass killing, and protest. Do we still feel the pain of loss? Or are we so familiar to the feeling that we cease to feel it any longer.
I get upset every time I see a new face at the Coalition, because it means another family has lost their home. I get upset every time I see the news of someone dying, while there kids are left to grow up without a parent. I get upset, when incidents are regarded as normal occurrences, instead of sad situations. Charisma’s Crayons is aimed at breaking the cycle of at-risk children not succeeding in their academic and personal endeavors, because poverty shouldn’t be a familiarity.