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Artist Fits Homeless People with GPS Tracking Devices, Sells Them as ‘Real-Life Pokemon’

Danish avante-garde artist Kristian von Hornsleth recently drew criticism for his latest project, which involves turning London homeless people into real-life Pokemon that can be tracked 24/7 via a special app. To make matters worse, every “human Pokemon” can be bought for $32,700.

Von Hornsleth, whose previous artistic endeavours include paying poor African villagers to change their name to Hornsleth in exchange for aid, describes his latest idea as an “ethical boundary-smashing work” that “fuses homelessness, privacy invasion, inequality and reality TV, with present day cultural decadence and interactive conceptual art.”

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Bosnian Man Has Been Living in a Cave for the Last 10 Years

Zarko Hrgic, a former steelworker from Bosnia, has been living in a small riverside cave near the town of Zenica for nearly a decade. He survives on food picked out of dumpsters and leftovers donated by kind souls as he waits to turn 65 and collect his due pension so he can hopefully turn his life around.

In his youth, Zarko worked as a steelworker in Zenica, but decided to try his luck in Germany after his marriage broke down 30 years ago. He worked odd jobs for many years, but 10 years ago he was deported back to Bosnia for staying and working in Germany illegally. Unfortunately, Zarko’s apartment had been destroyed during the Bosnian War (1992 – 1995) so he had no home to come back to. With no savings to buy a new place, and no one to turn to for help, Hrgic eventually ended up in a small mountainside cave on the bank of Babina River that had once been used by miners to store explosives. It was meant to be a temporary arrangement, but he has been living there for 10 years.

 

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Amsterdam Introduces Contactless Payment Jackets for Beggars

It’s getting and harder and harder for beggars to survive on spare change handouts these days. People have become too reliant on alternative payment options to carry cash around with them, and those that still have a few coins in their pockets are often afraid that recipients will just spend it on alcohol, drugs or cigarettes. However, a couple of Dutch advertising professionals have come up with an intriguing solution – a contactless payment jacket for beggars and homeless people.

Developed by Carsten van Berkel and Stefan Leendertse of N = 5, an Amsterdam-based advertising agency, the contactless payment jacket allows people to donate 1€ to the wearer using their contactless smart card. The unusual clothing item has a card reader sewn into it, and in order to donate 1€ to the wearer, all you have to do is hold the card close to the jacket for a few moments, and the sum is automatically debited from your bank account. The contactless payment jacket also comes with an LCD screen which constantly displays instructions of use.

“People have less cash in their pockets,” says Jan Jesse Bakker, the designer of the jacket. “And if you have a single euro on you and give it to a homeless person, then you do not know what happens to it.” That’s one of the big advantages of the contactless payment jacket. You’re not giving cash to a total stranger to do with it what he pleases. Instead, the fixed sum (one euro) goes into a bank account managed by a homeless shelter, and can only be used to purchase a hot meal, pay for a bath or spend a night at a homeless shelter (many such centers in the Netherlands require a contribution of 5€ per night). Homeless people who really want to turn their life around can also save money for various job certification courses or a down-payment for a home. “We can offer the homeless more than just a warm Christmas,” Bakker adds. “We give them back prospects.”

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Homeless Man Returns Designer Wallet, Gets Rewarded with a Job and His Own Home

Woralop, a 44-year-old homeless man from Thailand, only had nine baht (¢25) to his name when he found a Hermes leather wallet with 20,000 baht ($579USD) and several credit cards. It was more than enough to buy him food and even a place to stay for weeks, maybe months, but he chose to return it. The kind gesture would soon prove to be life-changing.

You’ve probably been asked what you would do if you found a wallet full of cash, at least once in your life. Would you keep, it, turn it in to the police, ask for a reward? This question always tests a person’s moral values, but for someone who has hit rock bottom, the answer seems pretty clear. And yet Woralop claims he didn’t even think about keeping the wallet, and even ran after the owner to return it, after seeing him dropping it by mistake. He couldn’t catch up with the man, but he went straight to the nearest police station to hand it over.

See SWNS story SWHOME; A homeless man who handed in a designer wallet full of cash was rewarded with a JOB and a new FLAT to live in. Good-hearted Woralop (corr), 45, had just nine baht (0.20p) to his name when he spotted the Hermes wallet with 20,000baht (£440gbp) and credit cards on the street earlier this month. Despite having barely eaten, he trudged to the local police station and gave police the expensive brown leather wallet with all the money still inside. Owner Niity Pongkriangyos, 30, was so thrilled when cops tracked him down that he offered destitute Woralop, who has no surname, a job at his metalwork factory in Bangkok, Thailand. Read More »

Homeless Man Inspired by Hollywood Movie ‘The Terminal’ Is Living in Airport

Inspired by the 2004 Tom Hanks film The Terminal, a homeless army veteran looking for a place to sleep recently decided to move into Heathrow Airport. He originally planned on staying for a couple of nights, but he’s been living there for almost a month.

A former member of the Parachute Regiment who served in Northern Ireland before working in private security, Simon Jones – fake name to protect his identity – fell on hard times after his business collapsed and his romantic relationship ended. Penniless and with no place to sleep, he remembered watching The Terminal, in which the main character is forced to live in an airport after war breaks out in his country leaving him stateless, and decided to crash at Heathrow Airport – the busiest in Europe – for a couple of nights.

“I suddenly lost everything when my business, which provided high-risk assignments and the training of personnel, collapsed. The business put an enormous strain on my relationship and we separated. I was suddenly homeless and, because all the bank accounts were in joint names, penniless,” Jones told English newspaper The Sunday Express. “I was mulling over what to do. I don’t want to be a burden on anybody, so felt I couldn’t stay on friends’ floors for more than a night or two, especially since I can’t pay my way. Then I remembered the Tom Hanks film about the bloke living at an airport. I realized there would be washing facilities and even free wi-fi.”

Viktor Navorski (TOM HANKS), a visitor to New York from Eastern Europe, finds himself stranded at the airport when a coup in his homeland leaves him without a valid passport or visa, in DreamWorks Pictures' THE TERMINAL, directed by Steven Spielberg.

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Restaurant Owner Installs Outdoor Fridge for the Homeless to Pick Up Free Food From

Minu Pauline, a restaurant owner from Kochi, in southern India, recently made news headlines not for her culinary expertise but her awe-inspiring generosity. She maintains a fully stocked, unlocked refrigerator outside her restaurant, filled with free fresh meals for the homeless.

Minu, whose popular food joint Pappadavada has been operating since 2013, was struck by the sight of homeless people digging for food from the garbage bins behind her kitchen. “I have often seen the homeless and the hungry, especially the aged, rummage through garbage scouring for food,” she told The Hindu. “They are looking for some leftovers or stale food to quell their hunger, and it disturbs me.”

So when she opened a second branch in another part of the city last week, she also installed a fridge outside and named it ‘Nanma Maram’ (the tree of goodness). The fridge is always stocked with about 50 packets of freshly cooked food from the restaurant, for people to reach for when they are hungry. “I was asked, ‘What if someone, not necessarily needy, took the food?’” she said. “My answer was, ‘I’ll just put my faith in the goodness of the folks.’”

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Unique Community Kitchen Is Set Up Like a Restaurant So Homeless People can Dine with Dignity

Although it’s a soup kitchen for the homeless, Kansas City Community Kitchen is set up to resemble a real restaurant, complete with greeters, waiters, and fancy restaurant-quality meals. The idea is to treat the homeless with respect and allow them to enjoy their meal with dignity.

The kitchen, run by Episcopal Community Services, has been around for 30 years, but it re-opened on Feb 5 with a complete makeover. In its new avatar, volunteer staff at the kitchen serve the homeless every weekday, from 11am to 2pm. A host greets them at the entrance, seats them at a table, and presents a menu created by executive chef Michael Curry. A waiter then asks them what they would like to eat and brings them freshly prepared plated lunches. The new restaurant-style initiative is meant to allow the less fortunate to dine with some dignity.

“We are trying to flip the photo of what a soup kitchen looks like,” explained Mandy Caruso-Yahne, directory of community engagement at Episcopal, adding that everyone is welcome in the kitchen, homeless or not.

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Making a Difference: 12-Year-Old Collects Thousands of Coats for the Homeless

12-year-old Makenna Breading-Goodrich is showing the world that you’re never too young to have social conscience. In a bid to help the homeless people in her community, she’s spent the past three winters collecting and giving away thousands of coats. She calls her initiative ‘Makenna’s Coats for a Cause’.

It all started three years ago, when Makenna watched a TV show about the hardships faced by the homeless during the cold winter months. Deeply disturbed by their plight, she soon came up with a simple solution – to go around her neighborhood, asking people to donate all the coats and jackets they could spare. All she had to do was find a way to spread the word, collect the coats, and get them to the less fortunate. Fortunately, her parents were very supportive and willing to help anyway they could.

“She said, ‘I think I can really do something to help,’” Makenna’s mother Jennifer recalled. “Any parent would look at their 9-year-old daughter with pride and tell her they’d be thrilled to help her in any way.”

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Serbian Dentist Spends 15 Years Living Isolated in a Forest in the Czech Republic

Aleksandar Pirivatric, a 50-year-old Serbian dentist, appeared in the city of Belgrade last Saturday, after spending the last 15 years concealed deep in the forest of Krusna Gora, in the Czech Republic.

Aleksandar used to be a renowned oral surgeon in the Czech city of Teplice, but the Serb couldn’t legally reside in either country because he had no documents. So at one point, he ended his practice and took to the forest for nearly a decade and a half, visiting the nearby city from time to time, for supplies. His bizarre story was finally discovered by Peter Silva, a Czech professor who befriended him after noticing his regular presence on the outskirts of Teplice.

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French Homeless Man Becomes Bestselling Author after Writing Book on Being Homeless

After being homeless for nearly three decades, Jean-Marie Roughol’s life is about to change for the better. The 47-year-old’s memoirs about begging on the streets of Paris has become a national bestseller this holiday season, selling nearly 50,000 copies and earning him cult status.

The 176-page book, titled Je tape la manche: Une vie dans la rue (My Life as a Panhandler: A Life on the Streets), tells Roughol’s story from his rough childhood to winding up on the streets of Paris. He recalls how he was abandoned by his mother and brought up by an alcoholic father, ending up on the streets in his early twenties after losing his job as a waiter.

Roughol started writing the book two years ago, sitting on park benches, making notes in school exercise books. He got help with writing and editing from a long-time friend, former French Minister of Interion, Jean-Louis Debré. The two met many years ago when Roughol offered to look after Debre’s bicycle as he shopped on the Champs-Élysées, a sweet tale that is also included in the book. He compares meeting Debré to winning the lottery.

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Meet Mark Reay, New York’s Homeless Fashion Photographer

It’s rather inconceivable that someone as talented and successful as New York fashion photographer Mark Reay might be homeless. Despite being handsome, well-groomed, and articulate – Mark didn’t actually have a home to go back to, after rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of the fashion world, for six long years.  

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Kids Place Warm Clothes on Street Posts for the Homeless to Pick Up

A group of Canadian kids are already spreading a bit of Christmas spirit in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by wrapping warm clothing around lamp poles for the city’s homeless to pick up and use. The unusual sight of warmly dressed poles caught recently the attention of locals, who stopped to click pictures to share on social media.

Every year, Tara Atkins-Smith collects warm clothing from her community, in order to give to the less fortunate. This year, she took to Facebook to call for donations and the response was overwhelming – their front porch was overflowing with bags of clothes. Since the family was traveling to Halifax on November 15 with their daughter Jayda and seven of her friends to celebrate her 8th birthday, Tara decided it was the perfect time to teach the children valuable life lesson.

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Non-Profit Turns Old City Buses into Mobile Shower Stations for the Homeless

One of the dire problems faced by homeless people across America is the shortage of public showers and toilets. Unofficially dubbed one of the homeless capitals of the nation, San Francisco’s 6,500 homeless have access to only about 16 to 20 shower stalls. But Lava Mae, a San Francisco nonprofit, is trying to make a difference by converting retired city buses into mobile shower stations.

Lava Mae is the brainchild of former marketing executive Doniece Sandoval, who, moved by the plight of the homeless around her, quit her job to help them. “One day I passed a woman in the street and she was very dirty and basically crying, and I heard her say that she would never be clean.” Sandoval told ABC News. “There’s obviously a lot of layers but I was wondering what her opportunities were to actually get clean.”

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Swiss Football Fan Travels to Italy for Game, Stays for 11 Years Living on the Streets

Meet Rolf Bantle, a Swiss football fan who lived on the streets of Milan, Italy, for over a decade just because he lost his way after a match! 

As it turns out, Bantle used to be a resident of an alcoholics’ rehabilitation center in Läufelfingen in the canton of Basel-Country. He had been on a day trip to the San Siro stadium in Milan, on August 24, 2004, to watch his home team FC Basel play Inter Milan, in a Champions League match. But by the end of the match, he was reported missing, as he failed to show up at the bus that had transported him and his fellow Swiss football fans to the stadium. They left home without him.

Bantle, 71, recently told  a Swiss newspaper his version of events – he had visited the toilet at the stadium that fateful day, where he became disoriented and could not locate his friends. “I was suddenly in a different sector,” he said. “I had about 20 euros in my pocket and no phone so I wandered into Milan. People gave me food and cigarettes, and one student offered me a sleeping bag.” 

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Bride-to-Be Turns Wedding Reception into Feast for the Homeless After Groom Gets Cold Feet

When 27-year-old Quinn Duane’s finance dumped her just a week before their wedding, the young woman decided to make the best of the situation. Instead of cancelling the wedding venue and catering, she invited the city’s homeless to partake in the elaborate feast.

Quinn herself was too devastated to attend what should have been her own wedding reception, but her family stood in for her to welcome the guests at Sacramento’s Citizen Hotel. “When I found out Monday that the wedding would not be taking place, it just seemed like, of course, this would be something that we would do to give back, Quinn’s mother Kari told local media. “I feel a lot of heartache and heartbreak for her, but I will take away something good from this.”

The meal, prepared by the hotel’s four-star restaurant ‘Grange’, consisted of salad, appetizers, gnocchi, salmon, and steak. It was originally intended to feed 120 guests, after the $35,000 ceremony at the hotel. The wedding, sadly, was not meant to be, but Quinn and her family decided to go ahead with the meal, only with an entirely different guest list.

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