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Homeless Travelers photos by Piotr Malecki


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A group of homeless men at the St. Lazarus Social Pension in Warsaw are building a ship to sail around the world, setting out to prove their seaworthiness and their worth to society, even if society has largely written them off.


In the process, the hard-luck Poles working on the vessel are hewing closely to the ideal of another snakebit sailor who had to rough it: Odysseus.


Father Paleczny, who refused to call the home a homeless shelter, created the project to give the men a goal for the future. In the three years since, some have drifted away from the home, and others have found work.


The men's odds of success grew slightly longer when their patron, Boguslaw Paleczny, a Roman Catholic priest and musician, died in June. But the workers say that his death has stiffened their resolve.


For now, instead of the open blue waters of the Baltic Sea, the prow of the ship faces a tattered blue tarp in the St. Lazarus home's makeshift shipyard. Some of the men peeled vegetables for a dinner in the soup kitchen, while other men worked on their boat.



Homeless Travelers