Czech national anthem serves to highlight the plight of the homeless

The Czech national anthem which opens with the line “Where is my home?” inspired the creation of a new spot intended to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless. A homeless man at Prague’s main railway station shouts the question and starts singing the anthem as others walk up and join in – directing the question at largely disinterested passers-by. The spot made by the Czech Salvation Army in cooperation with the Scottish director Callum Ferguson aims to break down existing prejudices and raise more public support for those without a roof over their heads. Pavla Vopeláková of the Czech Salvation Army explains why the anthem was a natural choice to drive home the message.

Photo: archive of Salvation ArmyPhoto: archive of Salvation Army “It has got the right subject –where is my home? And for the homeless people this question is an essential one. They don’t have a home and sometimes they don’t even have a bed to sleep in and a roof over their head. So - where is my home? - is the essential question that they are asking and we want other people to think about it and hopefully we will manage to support them.”

In this spot you can see a marked disinterest on the part of the passers-by. Does this reflect the general state of affairs? Was this intentional?

“Basically it was filmed in real time with real people, the only “actors” were our clients who were singing so you can really see the authentic reaction of the general public and their views on homelessness. When I speak with a homeless person they say that the worst that is happening to them is that they become invisible. When they are sitting on a bench or walking down the street people who pass them by don’t notice them. They don’t even nod to say hello. They simply become invisible and people can see it even in that flash mob – passers-by were looking at them with disgust, clearly thinking what is happening here, who are they?”

What does the spot aim to do?

Photo: archive of Salvation ArmyPhoto: archive of Salvation Army “Basically we want to bring awareness of the fact that there are many homeless people on the streets but that many of them are willing to do something to help themselves to return to a normal life. I hope – or we hope that at least some people will start to think about the fact that homeless ness is real, that it is part of our present-day society, that a homeless person can be anybody, not just those on the margins of society, but that it could be me tomorrow. And we want the general public to realize that home is something essential that we all need – that it is a huge priority and that everybody should have a place that they can call home.”