Visibles of Medellin, a story of social inclusion
Wandering the streets of Medellin in search of the men, women and children who live hidden in corners, sleeping on the streets all year round. That is the mission of Fundación Visibles: to share a simple moment, a warm experience, and make visible those made invisible by society and by life on the streets of Medellin.
Last Thursday, like every Thursday night, a small group of people met at Medellin’s Cisneros Metro Station. If you take a close look, you’ll see a mix of people: young volunteers, students, professionals, community workers and homeless people laugh, talk and take their share of hot chocolate and bread.
They are all working with the invisible homeless men and women of Medellin: they may be invisible in the streets during the day, but this project makes them visible. Here, they can express themselves, tell their story, and regain a bit of humanity in the eyes of others.
8pm – Medellin, Cisneros Metro Station
Men who have lived in the streets for years, homeless youths and volunteers sit on the Metro station steps to talk, drink and eat. Today is Boardgame Day, so any kind of game you might want to play is here: chess, Uno, Pik-up-Stix – the list goes on. Some of those who are playing today have been coming for 3 or 4 years, and are gaming experts. Others who are newer visitors have the chance to discover new games they’ve never played before, or simply enjoy a hot chocolate, pastries, and a blanket while quietly observing the crowd.
9pm – Medellin, Downtown
An hour in, the games come to an end and everyone – volunteers and homeless participants – gather to talk, share their experiences so far and grab a bag of donated clothes, blankets, and as much hot chocolate as possible to distribute in the next hour. Everyone picks up their share of clothes and plastic glasses – and with that, we’re ready to go!
Going street to street, we search every corner for the invisible men and women. Some of those we find shout “Dios lo bendiga,” the traditional Colombian blessing, while others are still half-asleep, but astonished. Some just need to talk, and members of Fundaciónn Visibles and volunteers lend a sympathetic ear. And who knows, those who have shared their stories today could be taking part in an activity next Thursday night, or even joining the group to distribute clothes and hot chocolate!
10pm – Medellin, Plaza Botero
We’ve explored the corners of Medellin’s downtown as much as possible, the chocolate jar is finished, and there’s no longer a single biscuit or blanket in sight. The group comes together, volunteers and residents of the street alike, to debrief, sharing their ideas and experiences – and, of course, their desire to return next week.
Tika Travel is committed with Fundación Visibles for the Walking City Tour. Those of you choosing to do the tour with us are contributing to them as part of the price of the tour will go to them. See more information on our social partners here
Want to join and volunteer?
- Where? Medellin Cisneros Metro Station (line B)
- When? Every Thursday at 8pm
- Why? Because “Strangers are just friends that we have never met” (Jeremy, a homeless man)
- Want to do some more? Check their web page to contribute.
Author: Alba B.