By: Chris Cheng
On March 15th, UBCO Management Student Association had their annual event: 5 Days for the Homeless. Participants wanted to raise public awareness and educate peers on homelessness.
Ga Qing, a second-year management student at UBCO, was an active participant. His focus and motivation in life was mostly around luxury things, such as supercars, but the event changed him. During the five days, he was not provided with income nor a rooftop. All he received was the few food donations from people passing by. As he was adapting to hunger and cold, his focus gradually shifted from self-achievement to food and security. Qing was challenged by his experience. Not only by cold and hunger, but also because of his degraded interactions with people. He felt judged for his appearance. Whenever he tried promoting the campaign, people simply gave him a cold shoulder. Qing’s friends consider him as one of the most confident guy on campus. However, the indifference he was confronted to completely shattered his self-esteem.
Another participant, Paarus Kahlon, the MSA Vice President of Events, describes the two first days as the most difficult, mostly because participants were not used to sleep on the outside concrete floor. This resulted in constantly feeling exhausted during schooldays, and eventually made them unable to attend class. She mentioned that a fulltime UBCO student, who had been sleeping in his car for almost two years, has helped participants by sharing his homeless tips. On the third day, as participants began to connect among themselves and discuss issues around homelessness, they regained motivation. These social connections recharged their batteries, helping to ease discomfort.
Paarus also noticed that peers passing by became more and more supportive. That is a positive change from last year when people kept avoiding them. A strong supporter of this initiative, Angie Lohr, the President of HOPE Outreach, also noticed that change. She believes that this year’s event had a more success in raising awareness and educating students.