Today, I would like to tell you a part of Mr. J*’s story. So much could be said.

I could tell you what a complex and confusing man he is. Exhausting at times.

I could tell you how difficult it can be for us to move forward, in terms of the administrative procedures that concern him, in terms of his condition of homelessness, in terms of his fears and anxieties.

Monsieur J.

I could explain how Mr. J. is capable of getting angry, against us, against the world, against himself.

I could also tell you about how he struggles every day for survival, coping with mental illness, the street violences he is subjected to, and the fears that handicap him and root him into homelessness.

I could tell you that he often runs away from reality, taking refuge in a world where his difficulties are not as hard as they are. And yet.

I could tell you how much Mr. J. moves me, this septuagenarian whose body bears the burden of the years and the harshness of life on the streets. But who is nevertheless still able to travel kilometers, every day, through the meanders of the streets of Brussels. In search of food, clothing, blankets, a newspaper that will keep him informed of the latest news from a society where he struggles to find his place. Looking for ... what else? Many things. A better life, perhaps.

Then I will tell you above all that Mr. J. is a gentle, sensitive and courageous man. I will let you imagine the strength of the bond that binds us, we who have been accompanying him for several years now.

I will also tell you that he has one of the most beautiful smiles that I have ever seen, a smile that now has only two teeth standing proudly in his jaw. Just like Mr. J., who, because of his great age and all his sufferings, always gets up every morning to face life.

I will also tell you that there is a love story between Mr. J and the Rubik's Cube. May his eyes sparkle with wonder when he holds one in his hands, as if it were the most precious jewel in the world. But no question of mixing the colors. What's the point? They are perfect like that. At the risk of no longer finding their original appearance? No. To keep intact what can still be intact.

I will tell you, finally, that if Mr. J. is homeless, he is first and foremost a person. And as such worthy of interest and consideration.

Our job is also to remind him of this.

     - Pierre, social worker of the street pole


(*) We make every effort to respect the privacy of our patients and our professional secrecy. Nevertheless, we want to bear witness to how they have to survive and how we work together to reintegrate them. Therefore, the names of places and people are deliberately omitted or changed and real-life situations are placed in another context. There is no direct link between the photos and the stories above.

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© P-Y Jortay - Street Nurses 2020