Spare Change

Since getting to Europe four weeks ago, I’ve visited three countries and seven cities.

Though this traveling was a new experience for me, after a month here, I feel like somewhat of a pro at navigating new places.

I’ve been the go to navigator and somehow always manage to figure out how to get us home. The one thing I haven’t managed to get used to, aside from the traffic driving on the wrong side of the road, is the amount of homeless and poor people I’ve seen in – and out – of London.

From Italy to France, to Dover and Brighton, everywhere you go, there’s frail, pleading people trying to survive. And it absolutely breaks my heart.

I noticed it most just outside the Vatican City in Rome. There were fragile women lying in prayer at the walls of the City holding out dirty cups, hoping for a helping hand.

The contrast between the elegance and holiness of the Vatican and the people begging for a handout, literally at the foot of the walls, really put my trip in perspective.

I am fortunate enough to tourist all of these wonderful countries and bask in the gems that you can’t find in America while these men and women who get to see this beauty everyday only want what I have. A bed and a guaranteed meal.

While at the Trevi Fountain eating gelato and enjoying the end of our dinner wine buzz, I noticed a man sitting on a skateboard with a boot on his hand. His feet looked like they had been handicapped in some way and he used the booted hand to scoot along the cobblestones. Instantly my buzz was gone and my heart sank.

How can I enjoy the beauty around me when there’s so many people in pain?

This thought stayed with me the entire trip and I believe it will my entire life. This trip and the people I’ve seen in the streets have sparked a new interest within me to want to help these people in a meaningful way, not just giving them a pound or two but really learning about their problems and finding ways to fix them.

While the pretty photos and newfound friends will also stay with me once I’m home, the way I feel when I see someone in a position of misfortune has forever been changed and for that I am grateful.


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