‘They burnt it to the ground, and everything in it….even my medication’, says Hamid Farahi, about the tent he was living in up until a few months ago.
Born in Iran in 1962, Hamid was a promising student conscripted into the army at 18 years old, who after service went on to obtain a degree with high honours in applied mathematics and theoretical physics.
Of the few personal items he still has left, a bundle of letters from the desk of Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking are amongst them. They are signed by Hawkings’ ex personal assistant Sue Masey, and are evidence of Hamid being one of the final few candidates shortlisted as a graduate assistant to the world famous Professor.
‘It was a great time in my life, and i could have been sad about not getting the scholarship’ , said Hamid, ‘but more so i was proud to have been one of the final few candidates in the selection process’.
Hamid went on to graduate from the British Aeronautical University in Bristol, which led to him securing a job as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer at British Airways in Stansted.
Like many other people, Hamid’s life ambitions and job security were sadly cut short following the UK recession of 2008.
In 2009 he was made redundant, and after a year of desperately searching for work he turned to anti depressants and then to alcohol.
Sadly, Hamid’s problems appear to be compounded by symptoms of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) that he has carried with him since fighting in the Iran – Iraq war, which saw over one and a half million people lose their lives.
‘It still affects me,’ Hamid said, ‘I still have flashbacks every night. Seeing the deaths of my men. My friends.’
With no children, and having never married, Hamid’s problems snowballed once he found himself on the streets. His prospects looked bleak for many years, and he eventually found himself sleeping in a tent behind Church Langley Tescos.
It was here, a few months ago, that his tent was torched by a group of teenagers.
Following this mindless act of vandalism someone kindly donated Hamid a used car so that he had somewhere to sleep and store his few remaining possessions, and he continued to live in this car until a week ago following a particularly bitter winter night.
‘It was so cold when i tried to open the car door, the key broke and i was locked out. I started a fire in the nearby woods and stayed by it all night to make sure i didn’t freeze’ said Hamid.
Having become known to regular users of Church Langley Tesco as a well mannered and approachable person, Hamid had struck up friendships with some of the people who regularly bought him spare clothes or food donations.
One of these people, who wishes to remain anonymous, goes by the Facebook pseudonym of Clive Turner.
Clive secured a locksmith to get Hamid back into his car, and then set up a crowdfunding page to hopefully help raise money and awareness to Hamids current situation.
‘He’s ex military, a very proud man, and not in very good health, ‘said Clive, ‘he just needs a bit of help to get himself back on his feet and even if we can raise enough money to get him somewhere to stay for a few weeks over christmas it’ll be worth it’.
The page caught the attention of a couple (also wishing to remain anonymous) who were moved by the story and went on to pay for Hamid to stay at the Park Inn for five nights with meals paid for.
‘Hamid said it was the first bed he had slept in for two years. Neither myself or the couple who put him up here are looking for a pat on the back, that’s why we want to remain anonymous’ said Clive, ‘we’re just doing what we hope most people would do in this situation and help out a person in need.’
The page has gathered momentum since being set up five days ago. Six hundred pounds has been raised, bags of donated clothes and food have been received by Clive, and a Harlow resident has offered to replace Hamid’s car with a van, giving him more living space and a higher level of comfort throughout the winter months.
Following this outpouring of support and good will, Hamid seemed almost overwhelmed.
‘I appreciate the massive kindness inside of people, to give to those who are in need’, he said, ‘I am speechless.’
Any money donated to Hamid’s cause will go directly towards helping Hamid. At the moment, any money donated will help to convert the new van into a comfortable living space, complete with insulation, lighting and other basic needs.
To donate to Hamid’s cause and hopefully help him through the nearing winter months, go to https://www.gofundme.com/help-for-hamed.