Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Homeless in the Netherlands

Living in this country for more than a year, I have been wondering about whether there are homeless people. Maybe because of the small town I live in, I rarely meet anybody asking for money, or sitting lonely in a street corner. This is a big contrast comparing to my first day experience in a midwest city in the United State, in which I only later realized that she was asking for money. I was not sure about whether I totally understood what that lady was talking about. She just stopped me and started talking, and then looking at her arms, kept talking, and then said something about 'changes'. It was in the campus, and I only have big money in my pocket which I didn't want to give out. She might not be homeless, but she was poor. In those cold Colorado winter mornings when I had chances to go to Downtown Denver, I really saw homeless people occupying each heating manholes, sleeping through the freezing nights.

I haven't had any experience of being asked for money after coming to the Netherlands. We somehow credit this to the strong welfare systems here. In the city of Rotterdam, it seems that poor people are more visible. It is just a feeling that they are not dressed clean, and they look like hanging around in the streets. Are there really homeless people in the Netherlands? This has been a question for us for quite a while. A news today from RNW kind of solved my problem. This is the video:

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