To most of us, the phrase is trivial, and it brings images of flying monkeys, yellow-bricked roads, and magical places over the rainbow. So much of our childhood is built around memories of old movies, and the familiar smells, comforting sounds, and safe feelings we associate with the concept of home.
And yet, for so many people on our planet, the word doesn't equate with fond memories - it's almost a foreign concept, in fact. It's hard to create a sense of home without a house. Four walls and a roof do much more than protect us from inclement weather, save lives, reduce disease, and increase the quality of life - as the World Health Organization points out. They also create a sustainable space where memories are created, identity-giving cultures are learned, and rich traditions are handed down to younger generations.
It's hard to create a sense of home without a house.
Unless we open our eyes, those of us who have been blessed with a home since day one have a hard time imagining that homelessness could happen in our own backyard - but it does. Many of our Indigenous communities have been deprived of this basic concept we call home and have been forced to survive in spaces where they not only lack drinkable water and proper heating but where their culture and traditions have no room to survive.
Because dignity is not an option.
For a while now, I've been following and supporting the vision of the Trade Venture Development Group (TVDG) - a team of dedicated people collaborating to make housing more attainable the world over. What caught my eye about TVDG was how closely they work with the different communities to create spaces that are functional and culturally sensitive at the same time. Their motto says it all: "Because dignity is not an option". When we can offer a home where both safety and culture can be housed, then dignity is possible.
Jorge O. Avilés
Senior Advisor, Indigenous Relations