There are many reasons why a person ends up on the street without a home. Economic difficulties, natural disasters and sometimes it is only losing a job push an entire family to the street. Or for those who already live near the poverty line, it may be one bill that will change the whole family situation.
According to recent calculations, there are more than 500,000 people, a quarter of them are children, who live on the street in the United States, due to lack of accommodation that their family can afford.
There are still others who fall victim to the unpredictable natural disasters, which can radically change the lives of many in a few seconds. The Hurricane Katrina, for example, killed about 2,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands more in its path.
These are extreme situations that could happen to almost anyone. In times of economic trouble, most of us try to turn to the family or the local charities for help; it takes a lot of courage and humility to do it.
However, there are people in need who do not always have access to a strong community or an attentive family, so the number of homeless people in the United States and other parts of the world remains high ... too high.
The number is surprising for a developed country, so think for a moment that there are about 100 million homeless people in the world , plus 1.6 billion people in precarious homes.
Fortunately, there are people in the world who work to change the lives of our homeless neighbors, here in the United States and other countries.
Individuals and organizations from around the world who have developed innovative ideas to better help those in need, from offering them a safe place to use a toilet to providing healthy meals to prevent hunger pains and malnutrition.
These good Samaritans are the perfect example of " loving others ", they participate in simple acts of kindness that make a big difference for those who desperately need help.
We can all play a part in this support and spread the word about the efforts of some impressive people and organizations that help people around the world in inspiring and somewhat ingenious ways:
France: Stores open for homeless
In District 11 of Paris, Louis-Xavier Leca has founded a project called Le Carillon to help the many homeless people in the area. Partnering with approximately 70 local businesses, Leca project defines exactly what the community is.
All these small businesses carry a sticker or a sign on the front of their stores to notify what services they can offer to people in need.
It can be a simple glass of water or access to a clean bathroom. Some stores offer the opportunity to make free phone calls. Some restaurants donate a meal for each meal purchased (a great way to encourage customers!).
Basic needs are not forgotten either. Pharmacies offer first aid kits, samples or basic hygiene products: an act shows that they understand, although they are homeless, but they are a human being and still entitled to have dignity.
Other participants have also simply offered conversation; an easy but effective way to make those who feel excluded by society realize that they are also an integral part of it.
By making the homeless a local problem, the immediate community is motivated to offer help to those in need, and individuals assume more responsibility for the homeless they encounter in their daily lives.
India: The outdoor refrigerator
Minu Pauline, a restaurant owner, has managed to prevent food from spoiling and at the same time help feed the hungry simply by using common sense.
Pauline initiated an "important initiative that extended to the entire city" when he decided to leave the remains of food from his restaurant (which would otherwise be spoiled) in a refrigerator at the door of the premises.
Pauline was inspired to create this makeshift food bank when he saw "a hungry woman looking for food in his trash."
The homeless have access to donations from the refrigerator 24 hours a day and the amount of edible donations continues to grow, as other restaurants and local residents have decided to follow Pauline's example and contribute their leftover food as well.
It really is the perfect example that only one person is needed to help change the lives of many.
USA : Apps that have fed more than one million people
TangoTab, an application that was launched in 2011, is an idea of Andre Angel, and was designed to address the problem of food insecurity, something that affects more than 50 million people in the US, according to the website of the company.
It is an alarming figure, but Angel realized that he could do something about it.
The food service business is sadly difficult: outside the rush hours restaurants are exposed to a great loss of money.
And although almost two-thirds of Americans eat out once a week, sometimes people need a small incentive to spend money away from home so hard they have earned.
The principle of this application is clear: users sign up for free, discover great discounts at restaurants, then arrive at the selected location and check in with the app.
After dinner with the discount, the restaurant donates a small amount to TangoTab which, in return, donates a percentage to a local charity dining room to offer a meal to a person in need.
During the Hunger Awareness Month in 2015, the application allowed more than one million hungry people to receive a meal.
We especially liked this idea not only because it helps the hungry and the homeless by donating much-needed resources to food banks, but because it helps everyone who shares a meal to make a donation for the cause.
It is the perfect example that we, as a society, are stronger when we act together.