I had the honor of visiting Sonshine Centre for women fleeing domestic violence last week here in Calgary. I got to hear all about how this wonderful facility is serving women and children who have been victims of abuse by giving them a place to live for 1 year, counselling, assistance and support to start a new life.
What hit me, however, was the fact that out of 26 rooms in the building, there are 24 children living there under the age of 10.
If you don’t think child homelessness is an issue – think again.
These kids go to school, only to return to a shelter as their home. No inviting kids over to play after school. What’s “normal” to us, is novelty to them.
That being said, I must mention how wonderful the facilities were; with playrooms, tons of toys and large rooms to live in. It felt so safe coming into the building, which would be a blessing to a child who perhaps hasn’t felt safe in years.
The good news is places like The Sonshine Centre, Inn From the Cold, Brenda’s House, Children’s Cottage etc are helping families that are homeless. I think sometimes we forget that normal people like you and I started these organizations just by seeing a need and having enough guts to try and meet it. That, to me, is courageous. Imagine for a moment they didn’t?!
One of items brought up by my wonderful host, Celina at the Centre, was the expressed need for mentors for these women. Someone who would be willing to come along side them to be someone to lead their way back into functioning in society. There are days I’m so thankful for my petty issues – how refreshing would it be for these women coming out of a life of fear and intimidation.
Truth is that poverty isn’t just about money. Poverty of crushed dreams, of basic needs such as safety being stolen drives people into a poverty of the soul. It steals their very life and breath from them. You could say that’s worse than lack of money….
One of the questions we pose in our upcoming show, Something To Say at the Vertigo theatre April 4-7 is: What poverty do you live in? It may not be poverty of money or even safety…. but we all experience poverty to some degree.
What’s yours? Once you know, it’s not “us and them” anymore. It’s “US” – and when poverty gets personal like that, there is hope for something to be done about it.