(I feel the need to add a disclaimer to this post. I don’t like using the word ‘beggars.’ It seems full of negative judgment, and I don’t think I have any right to judge people, especially the ones that are less fortunate than I am. I don’t believe that beggars are lazy people who want to live off of others. I can’t imagine what it feels like to take that step for the first time to stand on the street asking people for money. Or maybe that first step isn’t hard at all, maybe that’s the only way they’ve ever known how to support themselves watching their caretaker(s) do the same as they were growing up. I don’t know, nobody knows. But I bet that if they had the ability, if you took whatever stood in their way of a different existence away, they would not be out there with their signs and paper cups pleading for money.)
It’s been about eleven years since I’ve lived in Sweden on a permanent basis. As recently as those eleven years ago, seeing somebody on a street corner was pretty rare. At the Central Station in Stockholm, you could come across people who appeard homeless and occasionally asked for money in the passing, but I do not remember ever coming across a person begging on the streets on a permanent basis in the small town where my parents’ live. Now they seem to be everywhere. In almost every store entrance you can see somebody sitting with that little paper (or styrofoam) cup. Same person, same store, every day. I’ve heard that it’s mostly people from Romania. It is heartbreaking to see them. But it’s the sad reality that you wittness here on a daily basis.
I wanted to document it by taking a photo of a person begging at a store entrance, but it felt wrong to just secretly ‘steal’ a photo of somebody in that circumstance. It also felt wrong to ask if I could take a photo. I’m clearly not a photojournalist, so why would I put a person in it’s most vulnerable state ‘on display.’ So, yesterday, while we were in Norrköping, I noticed this sign with a little cup in front of it and, what seemed like some clothes or blankets, behind, clearly belonging to one of the ‘regulars’ asking for money. I think just the sign speaks loud enough for the new reality on Swedish streets, no need to expose to person who owns it
(70mm, ISO 160, f/7.1, 1/100 sec)