Multiple wealthy individuals came together following the fire at Notre Dame, pooling their wealth to restore the devastated cathedral to its former glory.
And while it was touching to see such pride taken in this beautiful piece of French history, people have wondered what else such vast sums of money could be spent on.
Paris is known to be a city of light and culture, but it also has a growing homeless population. Something you will perhaps have not seen in the flood of Notre Dame selfies which poured into Instagram last week.
As reported by The Local, a 2019 census found 3,641 people were sleeping rough on Parisian streets. An increase of 600 people was noted from February 2018 to February 2019, a 21 per cent increase.
It is with these dismal figures in mind that dozens of public housing campaigners headed to the Notre Dame, banners in hand, asking for France to also remember the poorest among them.
As reported by ABC News, an approximate 50 individuals from a homeless association assembled at the location on the famed Medieval cathedral.
Their banners bore slogans such as ‘Notre Dame burning = €1 billion in 24 hours. Homeless = €0.’, and could be heard chanting, ‘Notre Dame needs a roof, we need a roof too’.
The protest was said to be peaceful, with police monitoring the demonstration without interfering.
The protest reportedly dispersed after several hours.
Apparently, 600 million euros has been amassed to rebuild the damaged Notre Dame. In 24 hours. This life is actually hilarious. While there are probably homeless people suffering half a mile around it. While there are issues within communities to be alleviated. Humanity is weak
— Kruma (@judeblay) April 16, 2019
$1 billion raised for the Notre Dame disaster. I get the history behind the Cathedral.BUT.Why can we not raise that sort of money for under privileged, poor, starving, homeless kids and people at home and around the world? How can a building be more important than those in need?
— Fit Finlay (@ringfox1) April 17, 2019
the rich and the elite donating to notre dame have the means to bring clean water to flint, clean up the garbage in the pacific, and house the homeless, but they don’t care about improving human lives or ensuring we have a planet to live on in 80 years. and that’s sad.
— Kayley Boddy (@KayleyBoddy) April 22, 2019
As reported by Newsy, around 150,000 of French citizens are homeless, with four million experiencing insecure housing.
Executive at la Fondation Abbé Pierre, Yves Colin, has called upon big companies to show the sort of generosity to the French homeless population as they did to the Notre Dame.
Fondation Abbé Pierre is a French organisation which tackles poverty, operating on an annual budget of €45 million.
According to Newsy, Colin said:
When we present a project to big companies and we ask for 10,000 euros, 20,000 euros, 50,000 euros to change the lives of people in great exclusion or often to save their lives, and we hear that it costs too much — it is hard to hear after that, that a company can raise hundreds of millions to save a roof.
not saying Notre Dame isn’t important but i think the amount of money that was raised to rebuild it could have been put to better use by helping the hungry or homeless, cleaning our oceans, and restoring the hundreds of acres of land we destroy daily. prioritize better.
— sabrina 🛸 (@llightSABer) April 19, 2019
Idea. The Vatican agrees to pay the full restoration of Notre Dame if the French billionaires agree to donate the pledged $1 billion to help the homeless & immigrants in France. This is a redemptive opportunity that comes alone once in a thousand years. Everyone wins. #redemption pic.twitter.com/Ki5xjcqVmq
— Paradigm Research Group (@SteveBassett) April 19, 2019
So, the rich decide they can donate within hours, over €600m to restore a pile of religious bricks… a pity they cant show the same compassion for the thousands of homeless, those without water, or those suffering oppression or the needy… #hypocrites #NotreDame
— Clint Walker (@ClintHWalker) April 18, 2019
Notre Dame is a place of deep religious and spiritual significance for many people, and it is only right that every effort should be taken to preserve it.
However, as this lapsed Catholic recalls from long-ago RE lessons, helping those in need is regarded as a core tenant of Christianity, more so than the preservation of bricks and mortar.
Will this peaceful protest make companies and wealthy individuals think twice about where they are donating their money?
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.