I have to confess that I was quite worried that it would be difficult. The first thing I did was to borrow a good sleeping bag from Pierre Yang, a lawyer who works for me.
Getting ready for the night, I decided that I needed a good dinner before going to the WACA. At 5 pm, I had lamb shanks and a glass of red wine at a cafe in Hay St. It was a $50 meal but I felt fortified and ready for the night. I felt so guilty after the meal. Hunger is one of the major experience expected for the night.
At 7pm. I proceeded to the registration desk at the WACA.
Raymond Tan at the checkin at WACA
There were 99 CEOs registered for the night. We were given some soup and roll for the night. The evening then continued with speeches from some homeless persons who gave us an insight into their experiences.
We managed to do some net working while preparing for the night.
I got busy video taping interviews of some of the participating CEOs. It was great to see and talk to other CEOs who have the same interest in helping the homeless. I was especially touched by the life story of one of the CEOs who is now managing partner of a large accounting firm in Perth. Bryant revealed how he was also a homeless person in his youth.
His story outlined the fact that with hard work and determination, we can rise above poverty.
By 11 pm, everyone was looking for a place to sleep. I walked around the WACA 3 times looking for a good spot. I had to consider wind chill factor, lighting requirements, shelter if it rained etc.
The good spots had all been taken. I found a spot where it was basically a dingy storeroom without a door. It smelt musty.
It would have been a good spot if it was raining and really really cold as there was no fresh air in that space.
By that time, the temperature had dropped to 5 degrees. It was not as cold as I expected as the rain had come and gone. I thought I might risk the rain and sleep out in a spot that overlooked the WACA field. There was a tarpaulin above me which would cover me from the rain if it did rain again. I chose the spot as there was still enough light for me to read the book I had brought with me. The book is "How to make millions from the internet". Strange book I suppose for a homeless person to be reading.
I also liked the spot as I knew I could see the sun rise in the morning. I do not get to see the sun rise very often as I am a late sleeper and I thought this was as good a chance as any.
The cold was not as bad as I expected. I was still able to get to sleep from 12 am to 5 am. despite being uncomfortable and missing my soft bed.
The biggest difference between what the CEOs experienced and what a real homeless person experience was the knowledge that we were safe and secure in a place guarded by security guards.
In real life, the security guards would have moved us on instead of protecting us. We would also have been exposed to physical harm from being mugged even as a homeless person.
I got up at 5.30 am as it was getting much colder. I took a walk back to the meeting area where they were serving coffee and breakfast.
The coffee was a welcome relief and by that time my lamb shanks had been digested and I was grateful for the bacon and egg bun provided.
We were all allowed to leave at about 7 am after swapping stories about the night with the other CEOs.
All in all, it has been a great experience. I wished I had taken more photos but have to be content with the video log and interviews. It will take some time to prepare them for publishing.
On last count I have raised $6865 and am ranked no. 8 in a field of 98 WA CEOs. WA has raised nearly $400,000 with a massive donation of $113,000 from Andrew Forrest of FMG. Not a bad effort. Australia wide, there are 685 CEOs registered. Australia wide, a sum of $2.7 million has been raised to date.
Looking at the media reports, there have been many positive comments about how the event will raise awareness and much needed funds for the homeless.
As usual, there are negative comments from arm chair keyboard critics that this is just a publicity stunt for the CEOs.
I believe that the most important achievement for the event is the raising of awareness of the homeless situation in Perth. Having had to move homeless persons from private properties for my clients and myself, I am aware it is a real problem that has to be tackled by the government.
Hopefully, I have in a small way been able to help raise that awareness.
Personally I have learnt that one of the most important aspect of homelessness is the fact that everyone wants to ignore them. The respect we give the homeless by just talking to them and showing kindness will go a long way to help them. However, right now, raising funds for Vinnies to continue their good work is a priority.
You can still donate even though the event is finished.
I will definitely take part again next year and with more time to raise the funds, I am sure I can do better in the amounts raised.
The lesson learnt is to appreciate the roof over our heads and the soft bed we are lucky enough to have. Till I blog again, goodnight.