More than 12 years ago a group of young Chileans began to share experiences and concrete actions in several hostels in the city of Santiago. Today, thanks to a serious commitment, some stepped down in favour of "new entries," but the activity remains the same as the first day.
Hostels, in Chile, are places where people who do not have any other possibility can spend the night. People who live there pay a small fee to have a bed and the use of a common bathroom. However, they are complex places where most people have complicated situations, past and present hardships, in the midst of thefts, sufferings, and confusions. A group of young people belonging to the Young People for a United World, more than 12 years ago decided to go there regularly, at the beginning, just to share some moments with them. Having a tea, eating some sandwiches, or sharing a juice with them. Often this was the pretext to have moments of dialogue and enter into the reality of these people who live a reality of suffering and abandonment in their own flesh. And reach out to them.
Currently, they attend the Hospedería Padre Lavin, which belongs to a Foundation, to build a relationship with the people who live there and, at the same time, join forces. This structure hosts over 100 people who live there to recover from addictions, to search for a job, or begging some help to get by. Young People for a United World, besides sharing their time with the hostel’s guests, also help in a concrete way in the search of work, the donation of clothes to enable them to go to work interviews, the rehabilitation activity, and many other things.
Once, for example, the idea of a Christmas on the street arose. And it became something of every year, in which many families, friends, and hostel’s guests, come together to celebrate Christmas, with the aim of saving a hard time to the hostel’s guests, but also of going to the root of the essentials of Christmas.
Today and every first Saturday of each month, there are approximately 15 young people who go to the Hostel. Sometimes they are even more, because other young people from different parishes join them. Their meeting point is the "Casita Gen", an apartment where some of the young people who carry out the activity live. The Casita, in fact, came about also thanks to the hostel activity and a commitment to have a house open to all. They meet there every Saturday, they share and prepare the activities of the day, and introduce the action to those who participate for the first time. This Saturday they are preparing a songs and ukulele show, to share some music together.
"The experience is not only going to visit them, but first get together to prepare everything: sandwiches, tea, coffee, etc., to get things ready and build relationships among us. The basic idea is not just to have an experience among us, but that our street friends can see, first of all, that we love each other deeply and that this is the source of the service (or love) towards them," says a young protagonist of the hostel activity.
"The experience is about getting out of an ordinary Saturday and going to meet these friends who live in a street situation, to empathize with another kind of social reality, where we can feed each other from different life experiences. We seek to create an environment where differences are not an obstacle, but an opportunity to see how equal we are, to go against the current that our society is following, and build a relationship of equality," explains another young man who takes part in the activity every Saturday.