This post should have been posted several days ago, but as you can probably imagine, being home has been chaos…
So, quite a lot has changed since I last wrote a post. Firstly and most importantly, someone employed me. When I say someone I mean a Catholic humanitarian charity that works overseas in developing countries. I could not be happier (no not hippier). Not only did I get a job but I am finally (kind of) utilising my degree in Global Development (only two and a half years later).
I mean the job itself is in the Supporter Service team but the fact I am working for a not-for-profit organisation is a little step in the right direction as far as my career is concerned and giving that I’m 25, about time.
The organisation is excellent. It is so refreshing to be in a work environment where everyone is genuinely passionate about what they do and enjoys coming into work in the morning. The staff were very welcoming towards me and I have fit straight in. I already feel like part of the Caritas family, even after just 4 weeks.
I also moved in with Danny and his housemate, Adam. Danny bought a dog at the weekend so I have been in doggy heaven (despite my allergy). He comes and gets into bed with me once Danny has gone to work and it is just adorable the way he snuggles in. I say bed but I actually mean sofa. I’ve been sleeping on their sofa to help me save money because of course, I’M FLYING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. I can’t believe how quickly it has come around. I am typing this from 38,000ft in the air and I am genuinely ecstatic, although the China Southern’s Christmas movie selection has kind of dampened my mood slightly.
I have told lie after lie (more like fibs) to those that don’t know I’m heading home and I’m so excited to see them and to finally be able to chat to them without fear of cocking up.
Now sadly, because of my new job, I am only able to take three weeks leave, cutting my trip much shorter than I’d hoped. This means no Dublin, London or UK tour. What was that post I wrote about not planning anything?! But that’s okay, three weeks is better than no weeks and for a job that I absolutely love/ are a lot of opportunities, it will be worth it.
I’m currently on the first of three flights today and I land in China in just under an hour. It has possibly been my worst travel experience yet (bar a very choppy sleeper ferry to Koh Tao last year after a heavy night in Bangkok). I’ve had a chunky man sat to my left who is hogging the arm rest and grunting every half hour and then to my right a very snotty sniffling, coughing man who I’m sure will have gave me some form of illness by the time I step off the plane. Not to mention his loud chewing habits (not that I’m easily irritable.) I have a lovely six hour wait in China before flying to Amsterdam and then on to Teesside. My brother is picking me up from the airport and then I’ll be heading to the pub to surprise everyone. Unfortunately Jodie has to work so I am going to surprise her beforehand. She is going to freak out and I’ll put my money on tears being shed.
Now Christmas is a time for giving and whilst I’m giving my family and friends the shock of their life I wanted to do something a little bit special for someone in need this festive period. I looked into doing the shoe box appeal but I missed the drop off date whilst I was back farming. Plus, you don’t really get to see the outcome of your gesture, which may seem selfish. I just simply wanted to have a connection with someone and personally make them smile. So I chose to do a care box for a homeless person. I hate the term homeless; it suggests that they don’t have a home. The streets are their homes. And whilst an unacceptable percentage of people are still living on the streets, they’re houseless, not homeless. I took a trip to the Reject Shop and bought a basket of goodies, toiletries, socks and flip flops (I didn’t think the last two through okay). In total it cost me $25, but you cannot put a price on the smile it brought to a lovely houseless lady’s face.
She was sleeping when I approached her, which I was a little hesitant to do so. Having not come across a single houseless female after an hour and a half of wandering around Sydney streets though, this was my one opportunity. I gently woke her from her nap and explained I wanted to give her a Christmas gift. She apologised for having been asleep and informed me she was sick and was trying to get as much rest as possible. Her eyes soon beamed at the size of the oversized box wrapped in Christmas pudding themed paper. She was so excited to open it and the smile on her face was something I will keep with me for a very long time.
She rummaged through the box like an excitable kid on Christmas Day and pretty rapidly took to the sweets. She stuffed her feet into her new socks and began gassing the street out with her body spray and deodorant.
It was quite clear that it had made her day.
We embraced and she thanked me for being so thoughtful. We exchanged Merry Christmases and I left her to it; which is my only regret. I should have stayed longer and got to know her situation a little better. As I walked away from the purple haired lady (her name escapes me because I was running on adrenaline), I began to cry.
The sheer emotion of seeing someone be so grateful, for really such a tiny little gesture, warmed my heart. I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner.
I used to volunteer for a homeless charity back in Leeds but this was a very different situation, I wasn’t trying to help her out of her situation or point her in the direction for support or to ask her any questions about her personal life. I just quite plainly wanted to give her a Christmas gift and make her happy. As I turned around to take another look at the lady, she danced in her bed to the busker playing Bruno Mars- Just The Way You Are near by, spraying more body spray for extra measures. By this point I was sobbing. As I stood smiling and singing, she did the exact same back at me and for that moment we were no different. Just two crazy women singing along to Bruno Mars in the street, happy, but for very different reasons.
Spreading festive cheer
Because you’re amazing, just the way you are
We often forget the true meaning of Christmas and don’t realise how lucky we are. I’m flying half way across the world to spend Christmas with my family and friends and the purple haired lady has nowhere to live. I didn’t do it to remind myself how lucky I am, I did it to make her Christmas a little more festive and I’ll do the same thing for other houseless people every year moving forward. I plan to go back and find her and see how she is getting on in the new year and give her a bit more of my time. A little love really does go a long way and I can only hope that people can learn from my experience and focus on giving at Christmas rather than receiving. It really is the best feeling in the world.
Now the countdown is on until I am reunited with all of my beautiful friends and family. Tissues at the ready. Merry Christmas everyone.