From whatever country we come, we are used to seeing homeless people in our cities begging. It is easy to be judgemental, frightened or indifferent but we often forget that they are human beings. Dennis Cardiff is not like that. He makes daily visits to a group of homeless people in his Canadian city to talk to them and maybe buy them a snack. For several years he has kept a journal of these encounters on his blog “Gotta Find a Home” and this book is an edited version of this.
I was hoping for a compilation of the conversations with a particular character building up a coherent biography of people like Joy, who slept behind a dumpster and was often beaten up or of Antonio, the small gentle man who slept on a bench in the freezing cold but Dennis Cardiff has stuck to a simple recount of each conversation as it occurred.
The “usual subjects” as Dennis calls his friends on the streets do gradually stamp out their identity in these conversations and we learn some of their back story but perhaps because this is real life and Dennis is determined not to interfere there is no clear timeline of their life events to explain their current predicament.
In an interview at the end of the book Dennis concludes that although many suffer from mental and physical illness and a great many were abused when younger there is no one reason why they are homeless. He does not offer a solution to the problem, but following Buddhist principals to, “open one’s heart and practice generosity,” he gives his time and a listening ear to them.