At nine o’clock in the morning in a garden shed behind a house in Amsterdam, a handful of alcoholics are getting ready to clean the surrounding streets, beer and cigarette in hand.
For a day’s work, the men receive 10 euros (around $13), a half-packet of rolling tobacco and, most importantly, five cans of beer: two to start the day, two at lunch and one for after work.
A group of about 20 “chronic alcoholics” in Amsterdam’s Oosterpark were spending their days fighting, shouting, making comments at women, and generally disturbing the peace, so the state-funded Rainbow Foundation Project, put them to work — voluntarily. Strange as it may seem, most parties — the participants, the foundation, the neighborhood residents — seem satisfied with the arrangement.
“It gives our lives some structure,” said one alcoholic who asked not to be named.
“Lots of us haven’t had any structure in our lives for years, we just don’t know what it is, and so this is good for us,” said Frank.