nothing like a good day lived in community to pick up my spirits.
street soccer was great the other night. good mixture of young, talented foreign players (who actually passed the ball) and our street guys. everyone seemed to have a blast.
i had an opportunity to talk with kal tonight for a while. he has been coming out for the past 5 weeks and wowing everyone with his talent and skill. he’s a resident of the shelter i worked at last year. after recently graduating from a local university in engineering, his mental health failed him and he found himself forced to stay in a homeless shelter.
his story, as sad as it is, happens more than you know.
that’s what happens when the majority of people in our society are so ignorant in regards to mental health issues, and when the province spends less than 4% of the health budget on mental health services.
i don’t feel like i’m talking to someone who has a severe mental health issue. kal speaks intelligently, articulately and without any weird social ticks or abnormal behaviors. his reasoning not only sounds good but is sound.
kal is from the middle east. born in palestine, raised in syria, he moved to canada more than a decade ago with family. soccer was one of the only constants in his life.
i asked him about his family and friends back in syria (he didn’t have any in palestine anymore). the pained looked on his face was hard to miss. communication with many of them had been cut off. he had no way of knowing how they were doing. no idea whether they were dead or alive.
his solution: going back.
i had no response to that.
what am i supposed to say in that moment?
am i supposed to tell him that his country is being decimated by a ‘civil war’ that has lasted just over two years? am i supposed to tell him it’s too dangerous to go back there?
(it’s my opinion that it’s not a civil war but a proxy war between the west and the middle east. the documented support of the syrian free army by the west and mercenary soldiers from west-friendly middle east governments paints a pretty clear picture. i digress.)
he probably knows this much better than i do. he has been able to hear from some relatives back home in syria. the story they tell isn’t a pretty one. the mainstream media in the west doesn’t accurately represent the situation over there.
i try to put myself in his shoes. what if it were my family and friends caught in the middle of an illegal, proxy war? what would i do? how would i feel? what would i do with those emotions?
my problems don’t seem so big when i think about what kal is going through.
street soccer goes later than usual. no one wants to stop playing. for kal and a couple of the other guys, they can’t stay too late or they risk not having a bed down at the shelter. it’s become warmer out but still drops well below zero at night. not having a bed for the night would mean a sleepless night. when you’re dealing with mental health issues, going sleepless is the last thing you need.
kal gives me an apologetic goodbye. i tell him not to apologize. i understand. a warm bed is more important than playing the final couple of games. he thanks me, we pound fists and he leaves.
rest well, kal.