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Beacons of Hope

“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.”  ― Paul Farmer

My time with Mercy Volunteer Corps has produced more memories, adventures, and lessons than I ever could have imagined. My service site is an organization that works to secure access to healthcare for individuals who are experiencing chronic homelessness. Together, my colleagues and I work to make sure the healthcare needs of the people we serve are met regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.

My work has left me with many questions about the accessibility and affordability of healthcare that I’ve never considered. Why are some homeless individuals so resistant to going to the doctor? What are the barriers in place for the people we serve to see a doctor? Are we doing everything we can to keep people healthy while they live under bridges and on the sides of highways? And, most importantly, why are the lives and well-beings of people experiencing homelessness considered less important than the lives of people who are housed?

One of my favorite things about my organization is that we go to the people, literally. We have a mobile medical unit, a city bus that has been converted to a doctor’s office. On the mobile medical unit, we can bring healthcare to the people we serve instead of them having to come to the healthcare. To us, the lives of the people we serve matter. We do our best to honor their dignity as people and listen to their wishes and concerns. It doesn’t matter that they may live in a tent in the woods, they matter. We even have a homeless memorial vigil on the longest night of the year each December, where we mourn and honor the individuals whose lives were lost while living on the street. I was able to attend the vigil during my year of service, and for me, it was incredibly moving and a reminder that even in death, their lives matter.

I hope that our continued actions serve as beacons of hope and reminders of human dignity.

Amanda Carpenter: Pittsburgh, PA

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