Most every European city is littered with statues ancient, old and modern celebrating heroes, saints and conquerors alike. While it is a fitting social norm to honor those who triumph, achieve and prosper there is little if any recognition given to those that can be equally influential in determining the social health of a society.
While exploring the city of Dublin for the first time I was surprised to come across several bronze statues that depicted individuals who appeared less regal than their usual counterparts. These individuals were posed bent over, downtrodden often with an expression of sadness on their face. I found this imagery quit surprising in an open public setting and wondered whether there was any meaning behind these depictions.
These bronze statues of the homeless were a project named The Ending Homeless exhibition brought to the country from Europe by Focus Ireland. The project was aimed at highlighting those marginalized in society and celebrating the 25 years that Focus Ireland has been involved in this type of work. The exhibition was part of a larger European project UDENFOR, which put the statues on display in several European cities during 2011. Many of these cities in Europe can be reached inexpensively by finding great budget deals online.
Seeing these statues scattered around the city reminded me that no matter where you go there is always the less fortunate in society that get lost in the cracks. Sometimes this margin is even greater the wealthier the society.
I am reminded that this is something that the human race has been dealing with for thousands of years if not longer, as far back as when the Roman Emperor Constantine declared Christianity legal in the empire and the first poorhouses were opened to feed, cloth and house the poor. All the way up to today’s modern social workers who came about as part of the social upheaval stemming from the Industrial Revolution.
As a traveler I found it easy to lose sight sometimes, that these individuals, families, young and elderly inclusive of every ethnicity and race exist everywhere.