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Waiting for the Bus?

Who has never waited endlessly at a bus stop in the rain, snow or cold? "It’s late," people grumble. When it finally comes, all rush in, quite relieved. The homeless youth in Montreal eagerly await another kind of bus...

In a well-defined perimeter in the heart of downtown Montreal, several people wait for a different kind of bus, five days a week, between 8 p.m. and the wee hours of the morning, in any climate. On rainy days, the wait is more difficult. When the Van of Dans la rue*—because in fact, this is a van as big as a bus—pulls in, it feels like an event, like a glance of hope.

Hundreds of people stand here, numbed by the cold, the rain. The youth under twenty-five can climb into the Van to eat hot dogs, drink coffee, tea or hot chocolate. They can also choose ‘new’ clothes from a special cupboard just for them. The clothes are second hand, indeed, but still in better condition and more comfortable than those they wear.

Dogs lick the crumbs they find on the floor. Often their masters come out from the trailer with some dry food for their pets, and in a plastic bag, some food for themselves.

Is it a choice?

Volunteers from all walks of life serve them, for this short downtime. For some passengers, who stopped by a few minutes, it will be the only conversation of the day, sometimes of the week with someone.

For some, living on the street is a choice, for others it is because of the vagaries of life. Hence, healthy people live alongside people psychologically affected.

The older youth eat outside of the trailer. They will also be served hot dogs and hot drinks.

*Founded in 1988, "Le Bon Dieu dans la rue", according to its original name, celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2013. This year also marks the 85th birthday of its founder, Father Emmett "Pops" Johns, born on April 3rd on the Plateau Mont-Royal in Montreal.

Reference: The author, Danièle Miny, spent two hours in this trailer in 2009. The text above is based on a paper she had done ​​for the magazine of the Missionary Oblates, Apostolate International. The facts are still relevant.


Please calculate 9 plus 1.*

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