By Oregon Center, USA (Originally in English)
Following Master’s loving instruction to help people in their time of need, once per month, our Association members in Oregon serve hot vegan meals to 200 to 300 homeless people in the city of Portland, and provide them with clothes, dental care kits and other necessities. We also carry out winter relief for our homeless friends in Portland and major cities nearby.
While shelters are provided for homeless people in Portland, individuals who have animal companions, or who cannot prove, via a special identification card, that they do not have tuberculosis, do not qualify to stay in many inside shelters. The shelters also have limited space. The winter season brings further challenges to our homeless friends, as they face the rain and freezing weather.
To prepare for our 2015 winter relief efforts, this past summer we started importing quality thermal undergarments, jackets sleeping pads etc. Stores in the United States also kindly allowed us to purchase outdoor gear at discounted wholesale prices so we could reach out to more people with our funds.
In addition, we provided a wish list form for the homeless people living outdoors, which they filled out when they would eat at meal service locations. They wrote down any necessities that had not yet been provided for them. As of December 31, 2015 we have distributed 245 gift bags to homeless people in Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, and Salem, each bag containing three to five items from our homeless friends’ wish lists.
We also reached out to those on the streets directly and were very touched by many individuals we met.
On an especially cold evening, while driving around, we saw a young man rolling around on the ground, picking up dirt and throwing it. After talking to him gently, we realized his inability to talk coherently and his erratic behavior were caused by the extreme cold. We managed to get him into a warm sleeping bag, place an air pad under him to insulate him from the icy, cold ground, and put a big tarp above him to protect him from possible rain. After a short time, the increasing warmth left him in a much calmer state, and he soon fell into a sound sleep.
On another rainy evening, we saw an elderly man standing by a bus stop holding a big trash bag. We asked if he needed anything, and it turned out that he remembered us from a previous event. He pointed to his sweater saying he was thankful for the clothes we gave him at that time. We gave him a warmer jacket, a sleeping bag, a tent, and a tarp for him to establish a piece of dry ground to sleep. We also offered him a backpack to hold his belongings. He was very moved and told us, “I am going to have a home tonight.”
During one outreach, we encountered a woman who had a torn tent, so we gave her a new one. She was moved to tears, and told us her husband was sent to emergency care last night. Seeing there were many piles of wet clothes scattered around her tent, we offered to do the laundry for her and those around her. Upon receiving the freshly cleaned, dry clothes, we could feel the woman’s heart was much lighter, and she kept saying to her neighbor, “How blessed we are, how blessed we are …”
On another day, we found a bridge in downtown Portland where many homeless people stayed to avoid the rain, so we decided to distribute relief items as needed. One young man asked us if we had any antacid, as he had been experiencing heartburn over the last three days. We immediately set out to find the needed medicine and he felt better shortly after taking it.
Upon learning he has no one to turn to as his father had left, and his mother was under the influence of drugs, we gave the young man a smart phone with unlimited data, calling and text, so he may call 911 for emergency situations for himself and others around him, and call us for any urgent needs. To date, he has used the phone to apply for food stamps online and said he will help others to do it as well. The phone also gives us access to the immediate needs of the homeless people, so we may offer prompt help. We also gave another smart phone to a woman in another city who is well-known for caring for others who are homeless.
Homeless people are the ones who take the least from the world. Their faces light up with only a little bit of care and understanding that we bring them, and they are always deeply thankful for anything being offered.
We find ourselves humbled with each experience of meeting these individuals who, despite being in an unfavorable situation, are still so spiritual, selfless and caring. And although we often walk away feeling that we are far from doing enough for our fellow human beings, we will still continue to try and hope others will too.
Expenditures by The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association for Winter Relief Work in Oregon, USA
|248 sleeping bags, 452 sets of tents and tarps, 1,125 sets of thermal undergarments, jackets and socks, and 263 sets of sleeping air pads, boots and backpacks||18,949.90||A|
|Safe heaters, emergency sleeping bags, underwear, socks, body warmers, cell phones, cups, flashlights, solar flashlights, blankets, fuel for heaters, gloves, hand-crank power generators, hand wipes, knitted hats, wheeled luggage, ponchos, snow pants, rain pants, toothbrushes, toothpaste, tricycles, train tickets, plastic bags, canopies and propane stoves||5,274.45|