English sample available

I looked at myself carefully in the mirror, studying my face to remember who I was and what I looked like. Preparing for my transformation from Ole Martin to a rough sleeper, I was trying to keep hold of something familiar.

I reminded myself that I was a Franciscan monk, a member of the mendicant order founded by St. Francis of Assisi, and that I lived in St. Hallvard Monastery in Oslo. It was summer, and I had just completed my first year as a social work student. After careful reflection, I had decided to go ahead with a project I had been dreaming of for a long time. I was leaving the security of the walled cloister to go out on the streets.

My hands were shaking a little. Something had changed. My brown robes lay in a heap on the floor and I was standing stark naked in front of the mirror. I started dressing: torn jeans, a hoodie sweater, and old army jacket and dirty trainers. I fastened a blanket and a sleeping mat on top of my little bag and packed a toothbrush, toothpaste and a notebook. I looked across at my Visa card, money and mobile and left them lying on the shelf. I abandoned soap, shampoo, spare clothes, sleeping bag, food and drink. As I fastened the last strap on the bag, I was struck by an unexpected feeling of freedom. Was it a freedom from something or a freedom for something? For the next few weeks I would be living with uncertainty, trusting that there would be some kindness out there.

I took a last glance at the mirror, walked down the spiral cement staircase and closed the heavy door of the monastery behind me. The sky was clear, the sun was shining and I took a deep breath of the clean, cold morning air.


Ole Martin Holte lived on the streets of Oslo and Copenhagen for three summers.

He was a social worker and, through his own experience, wanted to understand life on the other side of the counter at the social office: The homeless. How is living at the very bottom?

The author draws portraits of people in a difficult situation, while discussing how society views people living on the streets.


An extreme exercise in charity

NRK, Norway

(...) some of Holte's fates in HOMELESS will not leave this journalist for a while."
"[...] I urge everyone to read this short book about the weakest among us

Fredrikstad, Blad Norway

There are books which makes it necessary to become silent. To Stop. Feeling nausea and compassion at the same time." Ole Martin Holte has written such a book (...) A strong canditate when the title of the year will be awarded

Klassekampen, Norway