This week I took part in La Brigada Nocturna, (The Night Brigade), to participate in their mission to give the homeless throughout the city food and supplies. Last Monday, it was one of the first cold evenings here in Sevilla, as the temperature dropped to a brisk 50 degrees outside. I met the group and their leader, Isabel, in the Plaza del Duque, which is right in the center of the city and she assigned me with a small contingent. I had brought some provisions of juice and muffins, but they also had plenty of food collected for us to hand out.
It’s not that Sevilla has a big problem with homeless people, but this is my first time living in a city. Seeing homeless people daily is an unfamiliar sight for me and even a bit uncomfortable. Whenever I walk by a homeless person I have the urge to give them money and smile genuinely, as I’ve heard that homeless people are truly the forgotten parts of our communities; many of them feel like less than human because they are ignored. A national geographic photographer I follow on Instagram had a stunning project last year where each day he would post a striking headshot of a homeless person in Los Angeles and recount their story. A majority of the stories left me feeling that just an extra effort of help can really make a difference in getting themselves back on the right path.
My quote that I took in before I went out was from Albert Schweitzer, “Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting, and enhancing life and that to destroy, harm, or to hinder life is evil. Affirmation of the world — that is affirmation of the will to live, which appears in phenomenal forms all around me — is only possible for me in that I give myself out for other life”
With all of this on my mind, I went out with clear intentions and found it immensely gratifying to reach out to these down and out folk and give them a hand. Moreover, I had a band of similarly minded people behind me that wanted to help out just as much as I did. I applaud the folk who have been doing this all year round as they have inspired me to keep the people of the streets on my mind, instead of just walking by them every day.
Something I’ve come to understand while interacting with my fellow Brigada Nocturna Spaniards, that night was their sense of pride and dedication to their country. They truly love their nation and will do all they can to support it in good or bad through genuine morals. In the wake of the Presidential Election I believe this notion of pride is very important. I have noticed recently in conversation with my fellow students that we are all taken by the sense of wanting to stay here in Sevilla forever, willing leaving our home in the dust. I think it is important to understand that we students can still love our new homes, yet all the while must still remember to appreciate where we come from. After all, in our Rite of Passage, it is important for us to return home and be recognized by our family and friends as to how we have changed.
Moments I will not soon forget from volunteering to help the homeless was the smiles that elated from the hardened faces of the homeless as we did our rounds on the streets. There weren’t too many, but as we passed out juice, bread, and snacks, you could see hope arise in their faces and that meant the world to me. If we can all do our turn to help others, the world will be a better place in no time!