Journal

Personal explorations and stories I find on the way

A TABLE FOR ONE: Thanksgiving when you don't have food

As everyone left the city to spend the day with their families, Thanksgiving became lonely. The subway was empty, the streets were too. Even for people lacking personal attachment to the holiday, it struck as heartbreaking that others, too, were spending the day with themselves. Diners and fast food joints were filled with people using only one seat. 

In crowded cities, it's a day that can be defined by absolute unity or oblivion, depending on where you stand.

At the Brentwood train station, a homeless man in his thirties asked for a cigarette. Baring the holiday, a usual 'no' turned to a 'yes'. He lit the cigarette and went on to tell his story: "I'm just out of jail, after 16 months. I have nothing on me." With nowhere to go and no one waiting for him, he smiled and took a pause. "I'm just glad I'm free." 

The original question was if the people who attended were grateful for something. The answers were short and took time to answer. A lot of the people said they didn't want their picture taken because they were dirty, or were having a bad day. The series is originally looked to explore the spirit of gratefulness, but it soon became obvious that loneliness prevailed in many ways. The following portraits were taken at two pantry shops in New York on Thanksgiving day. One in Brentwood, Long Island, held by Feed the Need which provided food or clothing to 2,500 people, according to Deborah Kirnon, one of the organizers. The second one was in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, a Thanksgiving dinner at Maranatha 7th Day Adventist Church, which gave food to dozens of neighbours and passersby. In New York State, one out of seven people struggle with hunger.

Thanksgiving is a tradition devoted to appreciation, recognition and sharing.

It is also a story about the most vulnerable. 

Rosa Rivera was born in El Salvador, she came to the US in 1988: "Rarely anyone gives me something. Now I have a jacket and I won't be cold." Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

Rosa Rivera was born in El Salvador, she came to the US in 1988: "Rarely anyone gives me something. Now I have a jacket and I won't be cold."
Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

Francis Paredes was born in Honduras: "I'm thankful for so much: for being here, for having God on my side." Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

Francis Paredes was born in Honduras: "I'm thankful for so much: for being here, for having God on my side."
Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

"We're alive and God has given us a good life here", said the Paz family, who are of Guatemalan descendant. Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

"We're alive and God has given us a good life here", said the Paz family, who are of Guatemalan descendant.
Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

"I am thankful for a land that observes religious liberty". Jaswant Kapur was born in Mumbai, India. He came to the US more than 20 years ago.  Brooklyn, NYC. November, 2016.

"I am thankful for a land that observes religious liberty". Jaswant Kapur was born in Mumbai, India. He came to the US more than 20 years ago. 
Brooklyn, NYC. November, 2016.

"We thank God for reuniting us because we were apart", said the Guevara family. They were born in El Salvador.  The family had not been together in years. The father (who did not reveal his name) came with his daughter from El Salvador, and years after the mother and son catched up with them. The route from El Salvador crosses Mexico and the US southern border. It's one of the deadliest refugee routes in the world. Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

"We thank God for reuniting us because we were apart", said the Guevara family. They were born in El Salvador. 
The family had not been together in years. The father (who did not reveal his name) came with his daughter from El Salvador, and years after the mother and son catched up with them. The route from El Salvador crosses Mexico and the US southern border. It's one of the deadliest refugee routes in the world.
Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

"God has changed my life. I was doing evil and now God has changed my life". Joseph Jones was born in Guinea.   Brooklyn, NYC. November, 2016.

"God has changed my life. I was doing evil and now God has changed my life". Joseph Jones was born in Guinea.  
Brooklyn, NYC. November, 2016.

"I'm hungry. Living on the streets isn't easy. They give me food and other things and it just makes me happy". Pedro came from Guatemala, he's 23 years old.  Brooklyn, NYC. November, 2016.

"I'm hungry. Living on the streets isn't easy. They give me food and other things and it just makes me happy". Pedro came from Guatemala, he's 23 years old. 
Brooklyn, NYC. November, 2016.

"I would like to spend this day with my family, I miss them". Troy Douglas spent his Thanksgiving at the Maranatha 7th Day Adventist Church. He was born in Jamaica.  Brooklyn, NYC. November, 2016.

"I would like to spend this day with my family, I miss them". Troy Douglas spent his Thanksgiving at the Maranatha 7th Day Adventist Church. He was born in Jamaica. 
Brooklyn, NYC. November, 2016.

"I'm grateful for the food and specially the clothes because sometimes I don't have either", said Antonio Alas, who is originally from El Salvador. Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

"I'm grateful for the food and specially the clothes because sometimes I don't have either", said Antonio Alas, who is originally from El Salvador.
Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

Luis was born in Mexico: "I'm thankful for God." Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

Luis was born in Mexico: "I'm thankful for God."
Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

Jose was born in El Salvador: "I thank God for my health." Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

Jose was born in El Salvador: "I thank God for my health."
Brentwood, NY. November, 2016.

Adriana L.