Father Joe’s Village helps over 1,000 people off the streets of San Diego everyday. Some of our homeless neighbors are Veterans, others have been trapped in the cycle of homelessness for most of their lives, and yet others lost their jobs and were unable to make their next month’s rent. There are many different faces of homelessness. These are the faces that I see every day in Father’s Joes Health Clinic.
Vienna is one of the patients that comes into the clinic for regular follow up appointments throughout the week. She is a beautiful woman with a gentle grace that is unwavering. She has endured unimaginable pain and suffering throughout her life. She came to the United States after escaping the Rwandan Genocide only two years ago. She has recently moved into Father Joe’s Village to live. She said that this is the first time in her life that she is on her own and feels completely free. She often walks around the city just to experience the freedom that such a new place has to offer. Father Joe’s has given her that freedom. She has a home and a community that supports her at the Village. She has made a family for herself in the roommates that she lives with. Her healthcare needs are being met at the clinic. She is learning coping skills through her therapy as she struggles with the agony of her past. Although Vienna still has many emotions about her suffering in the past, she told me that she tries to live her life like a baby – forgetting the past, with only hope for the future.
Vienna inspires me. I feel honored to be able to talk to her when she comes into the clinic. I also feel blessed to work in a place where lives are changed each and every day. The Village provides a home and community to those who would be living alone on the streets. My patients are the most joyful part of my day. I am inspired each day by their stories. Vienna’s face has influenced my perspective on homelessness.
San Diego, CA 2015-2016