Recap of a deep 2009 experience: I was homeless for a night in Houston

by Jesse Muhammad

It was 3:30am.

I had been homeless for over eight hours in Sesquicentennial Park.

There I was stretched out on a piece of cardboard and a sleeping bag that was soaking wet by the mist of the cold air.

Mosquitoes having a feast on my face. Ground tearing up my back and my backpack served as my pillow.

Uncomfortable was not the word.

I had manage to doze off a few times but never slept for a consecutive hour.

I was dehydrated and although I had eaten a little something earlier, my stomach was in knots. I was uncomfortable but I wasn't ungrateful. It could have been worse.

Actually it was at this moment that it truly hit me. I had made the choice to be out there but thousands in Houston and millions in America don't have a choice.


(Signs on the ground at the 2009 Houston SleepOut)

This was November 14. I was homeless for a night along with hundreds. But the reality of it was the fact that we all had the luxury of getting back in our vehicles and going back to our families and fine homes the next day. We have a refrigerator full of food. But millions in America don't.


(Signs on the ground at the 2009 Houston SleepOut)

However this in no way diminishes the cause of why we all came together for called the Houston Sleep Out. This annual event is the direct result of my college classmate's 1800 mile walk from Houston to Los Angeles in 2007 to raise homeless awareness. His name is Noah Rattler and yes he walked 1800 miles. I joined his team called Team 1800 to help raise money at the SleepOut.

But I not only wanted to raise the money online for SEARCH Homeless Services, I wanted to experience sleeping outside too. However, this is not the first time in my life I have experienced homelessness but I was a child then. Long story. Will share that at another time.

I don't need to use this blog to rehearse the dismal statistics of hunger and homelessness in America. You can Google that yourself.

But what I want to tell you is that just because a person is homeless it does not mean that they are hopeless. That night I heard stories from individuals who overcame homelessness to now living prosperous lives such as Joseph 9pictured below). All they needed was someone to give them an opportunity like SEARCH is doing. But I also met people still struggling in the streets of Houston.

(Joesph used to be homeless. Now he's an ambassador for SEARCH)

It was now 7:00am. I took my cardboard box and put it into the stack with others. I rolled up my wet sleeping back. It was done. I had been homeless for a night in Houston.

But it couldn't end there. We're continuing to raise money for the homeless services. Team 1800 is presently the top fundraising team. Thanks to your support I already exceeded my personal goal but you can click here to give to this worthy cause by January 14, 2010: http://www.firstgiving.com/brotherjesse1800

Continue to accept responsibility to build our own communities.

(Noah Rattler and me at 2009 Houston SleepOut)

("The Faces of the Homeless" exhibit)

(Sleeping outside)