Development Cooperation Handbook/Stories/Los derechos de la hospitalidad para las personas sin hogar
A city with a duty of hospitality towards its citizens who do not have a shelter
Bogota', Colombia , May 2011
Project managed by the Social Integration Secretariat of the Alcaldia of Bogotá
Being a rolling stone. Some of us, at times, are tempted to abandon all ties, to just leave, to get on the road, with the hope that it will take us somewhere new. And most of us hide within ourselves a deep intimate fear that we might suddenly lose all we posses, get abandoned by all we love - and find ourselves on the road, with nowhere to go and no one who waits for us.
In Bogotà, as in most big cities of the world, the homeless are many; here, becoming homeless could well mean ending up as victims of drugs and violence. But if you live in Bogotà, even if you are homeless, you are not without the possibility of a temporary, but dignified, shelter.
Hogares de paso is a project of the Municipality of Bogotà for the social inclusion of those who live on the streets. In such “centres of passage”, the homeless can suspend their wanderings and re-plan their wayward and derailed lives. Municipality centres offer a temporary place to sleep, to eat, to wash, to get social support. What you wouldn't get here is pity; because to stay here is your legal right and, as the workers constantly repeat, hospitality is not a gift: it is your entitlement.
In the weeks when the homeless take a break from living on the streets, these centres become a home for them, shared in dignity with others who are passing through similar stages of life.
So, in the midst of violence and poverty, many are the success stories of the “passage centre” guests. Being treated as one who is “entitled to rights” makes a huge difference in re-gaining self confidence. By interacting with others of the centre, the homeless sometimes return to use their abandoned skills, find new companions and re-establish new homes.
And it is these centres of passage that give to Bogota a lasting sense of confidence: of being not just a metropolis of migrants but a human community, endowed with a sense of pride; of being a city of “no exclusion”.
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