March 15. 1:51AM – Today I met a young fellow by the name of Jay. He seemed a little rough around the edges, and I later learned he’d been avoided by some of the others who he made feel uncomfortable. I decided to take the time to get to know him and soon found out he was currently homeless, at the age of 21. Over the course of the day we got to spend some more time together and talk about some really important issues. I learned about Jay, both the good and the bad, and worked on moving past the images and stereotypes set by society on him based on his appearance and mannerisms. Perhaps the most moving moment of the day was when we sat down for dinner. As I began to eat, he paused, asked me why I didn’t pray before eating since I was religious, and then requested that we said a short prayer together. We both bowed our heads and thanked God for the things we were grateful for, an experience I’ll never forget. This rough, sometimes delinquent, homeless youth was also strikingly humble, philosophical, sociable, and kind. We had so many commonalities, separated by the fact that I have a permanent home and he doesn’t. The message this day taught me and the rest of the 5 Days team was that we need to work on being open and receptive to those around us, that we cannot box the homeless youth we’re fighting for into our own ‘perfect images’ which ignore the multivalent nature of human beings and their struggles, or try to deal with homeless youth theoretically without taking the time to get to know them and their stories. By not closing ourselves off to people based on initial judgements, learning to appreciate others – warts and all, and really trying to engage with those around us, I believe we can imbue this campaign with a truly powerful social consciousness.
– Armaan Kassam, External Director