Heartbreak in Paris

I haven’t written in a while.

Half the time I think about writing something and I forget before I have the chance to do so  OR  I write it all down and think better of it. I’m back and forth between this blogging thing because everyday my brain whispers and shouts some thoughts on publicly sharing my writing:

“no one really cares what you’re thinking”

“maybe someone feels the same way you do.. how will you know if you don’t write it?”

“you’re not doing this for others you’re doing it for YOU”

“everyone’s a writer these days what makes you any different”  also “so WHAT if everyone’s a writer it doesn’t mean you CAN’T do it too” 

“don’t be pretentious” 

“but… it makes my heart happy” 

So today this last little whisper was victorious. These days it rarely seems to win. And in realizing this I’ve made note that maybe I should listen to it more often… but that’s for another blog post. Today I want to write about Paris.

I have written and drooled and dreamed and fallen head over heels for the romantic, mystical wonders that this historical city has to offer. But today I want to talk about the Paris that broke my heart.

Because you see, poverty always seems to hit me right in the centre of my gut. I want to talk about it today because I feel like everyone talks about Paris the way I have in my previous posts. It’s enlightening and enchanting AND I -can’t -believe -how -many -people- I -met AND the food- that- I- ate AND the way the Eiffel tower glistened..just so.. right against the skyline.

But no one talks about the Paris at the end of the metro line. No one talks about the poverty. Or maybe they do and I’m just not listening. Or maybe you can only walk past hundreds and HUNDREDS of men, women and children refugees literally living on the street before you start to question your right to even be in the country you are travelling through.

Let me ask myself this for the 700th time. What right do I have to be travelling for fun, when there are people who do not even have a roof over their heads. The idea that I was just hopping from country to country while those around me didn’t have food to eat was something I had a hard time wrapping my head around during my travels this summer.

“but there are homeless people at home too and you still live there”
why is this so shocking to you? you’re shocked when you see it at home too.”
” what if all of the money I had spent on a plane ticket to get here had been given to people that need it…” 

I hope with my entire existence that I never become apathetic in the face of poverty.

I felt hopeless. Stupid. Uneducated. Naive.
“why didn’t you pay more attention in french class, you can’t even communicate when they ask you something”
“Do they even speak french?”
“why aren’t you DOING something for these people”
“when was the last time you even looked into the refugee crisis, you barely know anything about it” 

When I was 17 I worked with an incredibly impoverished community in Kentucky.  At the time it shocked me to my very core that in such a rich country, there were people who can’t afford to live in proper homes. It made me question what poverty means. The different forms in which poverty presents itself. Why is homelessness so ignored?  Why had I made it to 17 (the age at which most of us have already been accepted to university) and had NEVER been exposed to this type of poverty?

That was five years ago and the issue just seems to get more complicated. Obviously. (I just don’t know how else to put it.) Right now I don’t see any other semi- kinda sorta- “solution” other than to educate myself. It’s the only thing I’ve been able to come up with that may give me some sort of direction. Some sort of path to follow towards the route that may lead to a more just world, a safer place to call home for everyone. This path will most likely lead me to a great deal of dead ends before it leads me anywhere of greater significance. But thats important too.

Most days I just feel really small. The more I learn the more poverty and the issue of homelessness just becomes more convoluted and intertwined. So wrapped up into the way our societies function that I can’t even begin to fathom an end point. That’s not to say I don’t believe in the power of humanity.  I really think we have the opportunity to make a difference.  I just don’t feel like I have any sort of answer and the problem is a whole lot more catastrophic than when I was 14 and thought you could change the world with a middle school fundraiser raffle draw.

I recently attended a talk by Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese who founded “Save the Mothers” . Her advice to those embarking on a journey of global health was to build yourself the biggest toolkit possible. Become an expert and learn everything there is to know about your field of study.  So I’m just going to keep pushing, keep learning, keep observing and searching for the right direction to take. Because right now I am small, but maybe one day, if I work hard enough, I’ll be able to do something with the small amount of knowledge that I’ve had the privilege to acquire.

Paris is awe inspiring and wonderful in all it’s glory. But it is also tear jerking and heartbreaking and a shocking reminder that poverty exists even in the most beautiful places. I don’t think that should be ignored.

I wanted to write about this because it’s all in the way you see it. Recently I changed the heading to my blog. It reads, “This is the way I see the world, and the way I don’t”.

I saw a dad return to his wife and daughter to set up shop for the night. Their bed a small patchwork blanket laid out on a concrete bridge.
I heard a mother rock her baby to sleep while busy tourists chatter and clamber past.
I was walking down a street filled with men, showering in the street fountain because they had. nothing. else.
I passed by the mattresses and piles of clothing. The attempts at making a home out of the streets.

Paris, this is what I saw.

With love,


Posted by

A 22 year old practical nurse trying to to stretch my heart as far and wide as it will go

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