The Homeless of Budapest

I recently spent two months in Budapest with a team from YWAM Lausanne, working with the (massive) homeless population in Budapest, including giving them haircuts.

My interactions with the homeless were incredibly impactful. These are some of the friendliest, deepest, most loyal people I’ve met. Some of them have issues with alcohol or other substances, but a lot of them simply caught a bad break and haven’t been able to recover. The way they take care of each other is inspirational–many of them live in groups, sharing their meager earnings and protecting each other from muggers and thieves.

The huge mistake I’ve made in the past is treating homeless people like they don’t exist. I would ignore them, treating them as as if they weren’t there. Now I’ve realized that this is pretty much the worst way you can treat someone. By not even taking the time to acknowledge their existence I’ve confirmed with my actions what the rest of the world has been telling them–that they are subhuman and have no value, since they do not contribute to society.

Now I realise how wrong I was. I honestly feel honored to have met these men, and now to be able to greet them by name when I see them on the streets or metro stops and hear about how their day has been.

Next time you see a homeless person, if you have the time, I challenge you to stop and greet them, learn their name and take the time to ask them a few questions about their life. Maybe buy them a sandwich. Chances are they will value the conversation and the time you take with them more than they would value a few coins that you drop in a cup.

These pictures had no special setup, no makeup, no stylist and featured mediocre flourescent lighting. But they are some of my favorite portraits I’ve ever taken.