A global village in poverty



When most people think about poverty they usually think about a Third World country. The reality is that poverty is much closer to home.

On my 18th birthday, I moved out of my parents’ home and got a glimpse of poverty in Brantford.

According to Canada Without Poverty’s website, 450,000 to 900,000 Canadians are considered “hidden” homeless and I became one of them.

At the time, I worked a full-time job at a call centre that paid more than minimum wage and offered benefits.

I moved into a two-bedroom apartment with three other people, about 20 to 25 years old, and they were all on welfare.

We paid about $850 a month plus utilities, but could never afford the rent because I would have to leave my money with my roommates while I went to work and they would spend it on drugs.

We had a home to live in but our fridge and cabinets were always empty, so we started going to soup kitchens and food banks.

According to Food Banks Canada, almost 900,000 Canadians are helped by a food bank each month, 38 per cent of them being children and youth.

It’s a strange experience going to soup kitchens.

You see homeless people from the streets and it’s frightening at first, being in a closed room with about 30 of them.

You also see the people you never expect to be there, people in brand name clothes and uniforms who don’t look like they “belong” there.

It makes you realize how many people really struggle on a day-to-day basis.

But when you start to see them every day, you get to know them and they become more than just a face.

Luckily for the homeless in Brantford, there are free meals served almost every day.

But the soup kitchens would be done serving by the time I finished work and the food bank never gave us enough to last until my next paycheque, so we got desperate for food and for the other necessities of life.

I started to think about where this path would lead me and what these feelings of desperation may cause me to do.

Raising the Roof, an organization that works to find a long-term solution to homelessness, reports that the “hidden” homeless are at risk of long-term physical and emotional harm.

The Hamilton Spectator reported that there is a 21-year life expectancy gap between the city’s richest and poorest neighbourhoods.

I stayed up all night debating whether I should suck up my pride and call my parents.

I’ve always tried to be independent, so admitting I needed help from my parents felt embarrassing.

I ended up moving out in the morning and living with my parents by that afternoon.

Living with other disadvantaged people was one of the greatest and worst experiences of my life.

It pushed me to try to make something of myself so that I never have to live under those circumstances again.

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