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Friendship with homeless man

Let me start by saying, by relationship, I mean no more than at most, friendship.

I met an interesting man tonight. He asked a question at a lecture I attended which was directly on one of my key areas of interest (at the moment). I felt warm towards him immediately. I resolved to chat with him after the lecture.

So I did. And he told me his story in 5 minutes (in English which I struggled to understand).

He was once a philosophy lecturer, lectured on Darwin, Marxist philosophy, in Iran. His whole family, his wife and daughters were thus murdered, he was tortured, left Iran and come to Australia.

Now in Australia, with his qualifications unrecognised and not yet able to write English fluently nor speak in a way which is easy to understand, he is living on the street. He tells me he has been beaten up 3 times by racist Australians. I did ask about welfare but could not understand his answer.

I have no reason to not believe this man's story, and in all honestly he did smell like he could be homeless.

I have never been the one to comfort friends, I have never dealt well with other peoples problems. So I really didn't know what to say, I shook his hand, told him it was nice talking to him and hoped we'd meet again. He never at any point gave any indication that he wanted anything more than to chat and encourage Australians to treat all people better.

Having said all that, I'm now feeling confused. I feel both a desire to help this man whose life has been hard, and a desire to, if not be a friend necessarily, then to learn more about him as an interesting man with potential to friendship.

It is odd. How do you help such a man whom you respect without being condescending? In any case I'm not sure I have any resources to help him above a few dollars here and there and I don't feel that would be appropriate anyway. Possibly i could help him with his English skills, and that kinda leads into the next thing on my mind.

I kinda fear getting into any kind of relationship with a homeless man. I never knew I would feel this and perhaps it is some kind of latent predujice I was previously unaware of. But I think, who knows what kind of a person he is? Maybe if I get to know him he will be clingy and needy. As I said, I feel warm towards him, he is certainly friendly, intellegent, interesting. Maybe it is more a kind of fear of heartache. A friend should help a friend. But I don't even know if I have the capacity to help in any meaningful way. It would certainly cause me a kind of heart pain to know someone I liked is in distress, and the more I liked him the worse that feeling would be.

I know what my partner would/will say. He would say, avoid all contact with that man at all costs. My partner always errs on the side of caution, and he would certainly see this as potential trouble.

But I am troubled by this whole thing now, as a practical thing and as a moral concept.

It is possible that I may never see this man again, but I think chances are that I will, he seems known by the other people at the lecture and I am interested in going again to their lectures. And of course, there is no indication that he would be interested in being friends with me either, but he seemed like a friendly guy, and it is certainly possible that should I meet him again he will not seem so interesting, or he might be unpleasant.

I am writing this late at night and haven't had a chance to sleep on these thoughts, and I often say pretty stupid things when I talk with my gut before my brain, but I'm interested in other people's opinions.
After a good nights sleep, the plan is, as it should be, wait and see. But I really want to know other peoples opinions on these matters, and, what do you know about homeless people in a personal way - not a bunch of stats, but, like have you met, talked to, know, been...
Judgin by the interest in this thread, I'm guessing you'll would avoid him with a 10 foot pole.
Two possibilities I could think from this:

One, he is a person who has felt betrayed by God, Philosophy, Humanity, or friends. For him life is meaningless. And he is contented by just breathing air into his lungs. For that person there's probably nothing you can do for him. Or you talking to him might give him wake up call or bring light to his gloomy life. That is if you're really really interested in talking to him. But there's a good chance that there's nothing really you can do.

Or somebody might have lost him. He could be ill and could not find his way back home or too afraid to go home for some delusional reasons. It might be a good idea to check if somebody is looking for him. Or talk to him to maybe get a few names. Only few people would be willing to do that but if you're really drawn to this person then that's I think the least that you can do for him.

Advice though don't bring him to your house or be alone with him. The way you describe it, it seems he's already schizophrenic. Bringing him to some place might freak him out. There's a good chance you might get hurt or him getting hurt. Just help him wherever you see him and leave. Or may be you can, but only to give him bathe or a dinner. Don't let him stay over night or show him your kitchen. That is the time usually when something bad happens. I really think that only the closest friends or family can bring him home without him freaking out.

I'm not sure if you should have a relationship with him. If you should, don't do it routinely. Maybe a long talk once or a few words when you see him. That really depends on you. Chances are, it will be a one way relationship, something that might appease your mind.

To be honest, I'm really not mature enough to say what's the best thing to do in this kind of situations. Those are just my own opinion. But I really do think that someone or some people should help those kind of guys. They really don't deserve to die on the streets especially when they came into that situation because they're ill.

I'm not certain this man is delusional, he may be credible, or exaggerating...

I find that he is homeless, and Iranian, credible. I'm sure, an atheist in Iran's regime wouldn't go down well. While I worked in a petrol station, I met a lot of taxi drivers who complained their qualifications aren't recognised in Australia. I believe homeless people face more violence than the average person. His story is paranoid/persecution sounding, but not outside the realms of possible.

By his story, he is not lost, he is alone in Australia. It is possible that is not the whole truth of course.

He hasn't lost all hope in life. Someone who has, wouldn't be attending lectures, even attempting to promote his 'cause' in a question... the lecture was on religion and education, and his question was about the women in Middle East who aren't able to go to school because the schools are burnt down, acid thrown at them... not a selfish question from a man in Australia, although one which could be calculated to elicit sympathy I suppose. I mean, isn't that really what every Westerner wants to hear from a Middle Eastern man?

It was an Atheist lecture. He could be just like another homeless man who goes to church for the community.

Advice though don't bring him to your house or be alone with him... Just help him wherever you see him and leave... If you should, don't do it routinely.

Yeah, i think this is very good advice I will follow.

I admit in real life, I am altogether too trusting and some would say gullible. I prefer to trust others, and have had little bad happen due to this trust, so I continue. Although under certain circumstances I am quite skeptical.

It is hard to trust a homeless person in Australia. We have a good welfare system. Except for children (where it is usually abuse at home), although the welfare isn't a lot of money, it should be just enough to struggle by unless you have a drug problem or are mentally ill. But this man, I'm not sure.

I plan to get this man's story from the other people there, if I can. He is known to others.

But I really do think that someone or some people should help those kind of guys.

yeah, I say that too. But who? If everyone avoids him because he is homeless, this will not help him. I can sit here and talk about how everyone should try to do the right thing, help others, care about the starving... yet I am afraid to talk to the homeless man. Maybe I can't help him. Maybe he is dangerous. Yet he won't leave my head and I feel this man is kinda now, I don't know, that I have at least the responsibility to find out if he could be helped or what could be done.

I think, you can't just be friends, or chatty, with someone you know is a homeless man, and ignore the fact he is homeless.

Thanks loremar for replying. This is really confusing me. It is good to be able to work through my thoughts here because it is kinda new to me. I certainly had no intention to engage with a homeless person. But this was unusual to me, I was interested in this man before I knew he was homeless.
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