Turns out buses can do way more than get people from point a to point b. In fact, there is a movement of buses traveling around cities doing something that has nothing at all to do with transportation and everything to do with restoring human dignity to a marginalized population. The Lava Mae buses and trailers provide basic and life-changing hygiene services to the homeless in what they call “radical hospitality”.
The Lava Mae bus was founded in 2016 by Doniece Sandoval, and started as a means to provide showers and toilets to the homeless population of San Francisco.
Sandoval explains “hygiene connects you to your sense of dignity”. These are basic services that are almost impossible to find if you are living on the street.
Each bus provides 2,000 showers a week – and the services don’t end in San Francisco. Lava Mae has made their model replicable, and today, over 500 people in 10 different countries around the world have implemented hygiene buses to help provide these incredible services to those living on the street.
The Lava Mae model goes beyond providing access to showers and toilets. Recently, they have expanded their service by opening pop-up care villages that provide job advise, meals, clothing, health and dental services, books, haircuts, and hygiene kits.
Of utmost importance, Lava Mae is dedicated to treating guests with the respect they deserve so that they can start every day with dignity and positivity. “Its relieving to hear that someone actually cares” says one of Lava Mae’s trans guests as they enter the trailer on an early San Franciscan morning.
“There are countless success stories that we have heard over the years. People getting employed, finding housing, or overcoming addiction” says Sandoval.
There are tons of ways to get involved. Check out the Lava Mae website for ways to donate money, to help provide essential items, or to volunteer!
Thank you, Hilla Benzaken!