Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dignity Project

Blog post by Tina Winterlik
Mar 1/2011

Do you believe people "choose" to be poor!

I've heard people say that! Not a wise empathic compassionate person, obviously. Nevertheless, I remember him saying "It's their choice"

Poverty in BC is a very sad thing. The Campbell government really hurt a lot of single parents when they forced them into the work force when their child turned 3. For years they were able to raise their child until age 7.

This had so many benefits.
-one the child had that very special important bonding and learning time, especially since the child is coming from a single parent home. (Perhaps that mother has no other family to turn to.)

-two the parent was able to concentrate on raising that child, nurturing s/he so that the child had every opportunity in health, education, socializing

-three the parent wasn't suddenly forced into the situation of trying to find the elusive employment that paid enough and allow them to pay for rent, utilies, food and things to meet the child's needs. And for that matter the parent's needs, because if you don't take care of the parent, how can they take care of the child.

-four the stress that was put onto these single parent homes has really damaged them and it's the children that really suffer in the long run.

People don't choose to be poor, terrible things happens. First there is a job loss or an injury or some unfortunate event, then E.I runs out, then for some reason they fall into a loop hole.

They don't have an address, they were self-employed and couldn't get maternity leave, if you have a boyfriend that makes quite a bit of money, and you are living in a matrimonial relationship (having sex) with him, social assistance will not help you.

Social Assistance expects him to take care of you. Perhaps that person the woman is living with is mentally or physically abusive, but the woman is scared to say anything, so she's forced to live in a bad situation or go out on the street, or be on social assistance which can't pay the bills.

It's a vicious circle, because how can you get a job to get out of the circle. Maybe if your lucky, what if your not. What if the woman has a child?

So what happens when people fall thru loop holes and the money runs out, and there is no help.

Families only help for a while, then they get frustrated and won't help, or perhaps in this economy just can't help, or can they ? but just don't care to?

When you see people pushing around there carts/homes on wheels, all their possessions, and you wonder why? Remember this was someone's little baby, little child, lovely beautiful little person, that somehow things didn't go their way.

Perhaps, they were mentally ill, perhaps they were in a institution but now they abolished those because they were inhumane (lots of abuse happened in them and possibly to the person walking the street) and now this person has to survive, on his own.

But where, bedbugs are a huge issue in old run down hotels -where a person on a impossibly tiny income might try to seek shelter. The reason I am bringing this up is Bedbugs. No one wants to talk about Bedbugs but they are a very REAL & SERIOUS problem and it's EVERYONE'S PROBLEM



Robbery, is another huge issue, perhaps this person has be robbed and beaten and now believes it's better to just hide away for society- like under a bridge.  

What ever the reason, these people do deserve love and compassion and help.

Right now social assistance gives a person $325 for food, and $585 for shelter. Where in Vancouver can you rent for that, average rent is $850 and up. So right off the start there's nothing left. If there's a child involved there's child tax credit- about $300

Then there's utilities, you have to have a phone, internet if you need to look for work, and then food for two people have to eat off that, so about $200 for a month of food. Pretty hard to make that go the whole way. Suddenly there's no food.

Go to the food bank you suggest! True the food bank tries hard. But that's pretty humiliating to have to stand in line at a food bank or soup kitchen. People drive by and stare and look and think to themselves "Gee that's so sad" Some people say a prayer, others say "It's their choice."

The food in the food bank is often outdated food. The food stores can't sell. So then your feeding the children unhealthy food. This wonderful beautiful next generation is being fed poor quality food. Gee that's brilliant. AND THIS IS CANADA!!!

Some parents in desperation would rather have there kid go a little hungry than take a chance of them getting sick on old food. Or some parents just don't eat so that their child can eat. Gee that's healthy.

Yes, some people are addicted to drugs, but many are street children. Children who for what ever reason were being sexually abused at home by a parent or a parent's partner, or some person that has damaged this beautiful human being.

Now this child is no longer a child, they are hurt, and hardened to the world. They want to numb out, forget the past, they can't survive on the street and bad things happen out there, terrible horrible unthinkable things happen to boys and girls on the street.

They don't CHOOSE to live there. They are hurt, society hurt them. Maybe no one believed them when they tried to tell someone, they don't want it to happen again so they went to friends. Then the friend couldn't help and they start surfing couches, somehow they end up on drugs to kill the pain but spiral downward even more. Caught up in the need for their addiction and how to pay for it.

Sex worker.

These children did not CHOOSE this life.

No child says, Gee when I grow up, "I want to be a sex worker" or "I want to be a drug addict" or "I want to push a cart around all day and dig in dumpster for my lunch"

What about the elderly, as stated the rents are so high and if you don't have a lot of income for what ever reasons, what are you going to do? Social security only pays so much and what if you need money for medicine.

Many elderly people in this generation were raised with this strange idea that a pill is the answer. This is in part thanks to heavy media brain washing that you need something. There's something wrong with you, go get a pill. Doctors gave lots of pills and still do. Medicines cost alot.

My mom, before she passed away was on ll pills a day...for years, and I worked in Home Support and many other seniors were the same. That medicine costs a lot of money and who's going to pay for it. Medicare pays some but not all.

What about the people who don't want to take their medicine. Mentally ill patients complain of all sorts of side effects. They don't want the medicine. They don't want people trying to tell them how to run their lives. What about these people?

Lots of these people are the homeless poor people we see wandering the streets, swearing loudly, talking to themselves, hearing voices. What do we think when we see this. Do we say "How sad" "S/He needs help" "Poor man" "Do we say a prayer for him or her"

Where do these people end up? Downtown. Downtown on the Eastside. Where there's all sorts of dangers lurking, from drug addicts that need their fix and will do anything to get it. Downtown where people are desperate and hungry and will do anything to try and get back to a normal way of life. Perhaps the mentally ill person gets some money from social assistance, but then gets robbed because some other desperately ill person attacks them.

These people do not choose this life. They do not choose to be poor.

Canada has so much. BC has so much. Yet so much is given away to other countries but we don't take care of our own at home. People have too much. They are focus on that $100,000 car, and the Iphone, the best stereo equipment, the big flat screen TV, the biggest wedding, more more more.

Something has got to change. Things are changing. You can't turn your back on the poor and not have it affect you eventually. Somehow what goes around comes around. We are all affected and will be affected.

This generation of underfed impoverished kids, do you think they are going to grow up to be the wisest and kindest and strongest adults, with huge empathy for others.

Possibly, why because they've lived it. Or will their little brains function as well as they could because they didn't get all the nutrition that they could have. Will they be able to cope, maybe, maybe not.

What can we do? Well first off we can change our atitudes. We can stop thinking that people choose to live "that way", stop thinking "that people choose to be poor."

We can teach our children empathy. Empathy must be learned. Watch this great video.

What else can we do? Perhaps you feel you deserve all this, you've worked so hard for it. I never had it growing up, I want my kids to have it.

This was definitely this boomers generations attitude, but you know what, this is a different time. Changes have to be made. Things have to be modified.

Is there hope? Yes, I believe there is. We need to change a lot of things, but we can do it.

Gardens, lots of gardens will help. With lots of gardens we can build community and there will be more food and food is a huge part of poverty.

Building community, working together side by side, talking, knowing when someone is trouble.

By working in gardens, working together, getting to know someone, trusting someone, that person will tell you when they are having hard times, when they are in trouble and then people can reach out.

Reach out to people. It's so easy to say, "I don't want to get involved" "It's not my problem" "What can I do?" Well, just listening can help. Sometimes someone just needs to talk to someone, not a therapist, but just a friendly compassionnate, empathic soul.

A person to talk to that doesn't judge and helps them look at the bright side of things. Someone to talk to that says gee something like that happened to me, and this is what I did, or I will look and see if I can find some help for you.

People in poverty need to reach out. Many can't. They don't have the internet or maybe even cable. They only think about their next meal, where they are going to sleep.

This is one idea on how we can change things. Edible Schoolyards & Cobs Houses

Here is another
Have you heard about 4YG, Four Years. Go

http://adventurezinmexico.blogspot.com/2011/02/four-years-go.html This is a Super Incredible Opportunity for Us All to Motivate Ourselves, and Change the World and "Through the Four. Years. Go.

An education program that works to bring forth an "environmentally sustainable, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling human presence on this planet."

It is the brainchild of Pachamama Alliance http://www.pachamama.org/ & http://pachapeople.org/

Art is a beautiful thing, many poor people are incredible artists, but they can't show you because they have no materials. Expressing art is like an addiction. One can almost become ill if they can not express themselves, be it thru painting, writing, dancing.

Help people do more art. Don't cut arts programs. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2009/08/31/bc-arts-funding-cuts-gaming-grants.html 
But definitely find another way to fund them.

Here's my biggy. Stop frigging gambling. Yes, gambling is an illness and perhaps this is how many people became ill but the government sponsoring and then arts communities wanting a part of the money that is just all wrong to me. It's like getting in bed with the devil.

It's like taking money from Pepsi (and I understand, people are desperate) for a competition to help animals or something. But Pepsi is the bad guy. They are the ones poisoning us with sugar and causing diabetes and all sorts of nasty things.

Of course we only recently, in the last 20 years or so realized the dangers, but now they are trying to save their soul and keep selling their products and keep people involved with competitions like this. Coke and all these unnatural, unhealthy products are same. 

Tobacco & Alcohol- let's not even go there.

Gambling is the same. They supposedly use the money to help all these people but in the end people are really being hurt by gambling.

These are just a few examples of thoughts that need changing. Things that are just so accepted by people and their families, that they actually don't give it any thought.

Media can help, but it doesn't. TV uses scare mongering and advertisements just sell us something. They tell us we stink, or are hair is a mess, or we need viagra.

If people would stop buying into Hollywood and all the ideas they brainwash people with. Luxury cars, luxury homes, luxury clothes, and vacations. 

If people stop thinking that they have to dress a certain way to get a job or give a job to someone, men have to wear super expensive suits($1000) , ladies have to have there nails done($80) and hair ($100), have the latest designer clothes and all these other ridiculous things that serve no benefit to society or humanity in general.

What about people's coffee habits. Easily $1000 a year for many people. Could you drink hot water instead. It's much healthier for you. Imagine what $1000 can do. That's nearly $100 extra dollars in food per month for a single mom and her kid. Wow!! Just Imagine!

People are getting more educated - or are they? Some are - kids are on their Ipods and Iphone more than TV. Less commercials- that's a step in the right direction.

Maybe they are thinking on a higher level or are they just watching their latest video and tuning out everyone because they have their earplugs in.

That's another thing, how many times do you say something like nice day "and they don't hear you" because they have their earphones on.

This society likes to tune out the negative, turn their back on the homeless and poor. Read that book on the bus so you don't have to talk to someone or listen or watch the sadness out your window.

How can we change? Start at home, within your family. Does someone in your family need help? Can you help?

Or do you choose to say "That's their choice" or do you step back and really look at their life and say "Gee, maybe they didn't choose that life" "Maybe circumstances happened that I don't know about" "Maybe I could do something small to help out"

Do something bigger, start projects, green projects, gardens.
Have a video contest and see how we can help people. There are some brilliant minds out there, lets tap into them. It's a whole new world, if we want it to be.  

Gordon Campbell is gone, that's a good start. Let's help the people who were damaged by his harsh policies and try to clean up the messes he started and that so many people profited by while turning their backs on the people who needed the most help.

We can do it! We just need to be empathic!

And so with the launch of Dignity Project
let's give dignity to the poor. 



http://dignity.salvationarmy.ca/ The Dignity Project

Dignity Project launches Tuesday, aims to educate Canadians about the poor


While they may be generous enough to whip out their wallets, a new report suggests many Canadians don't appear to be too charitable in their opinions of the poor.

The Salvation Army report finds many Canadians believe the poor have mostly themselves to blame for their lot in life and that poverty is a choice.

While Canadians believe poverty is the third most pressing issue facing the country behind the economy and health care, many don't have a realistic picture of what it's like to be poor, according to “The Dignity Project: Debunking Myths About Poverty in Canada."

"Many Canadians understand that the poor are out there, that they struggle, that they need some form of assistance," said the Christian organization's Andrew Burditt.

"But ... many Canadians didn't really understand the extent to which systemic barriers can get in the way of really providing a life for yourself and that does rob you of your dignity," he said.

The Salvation Army Report as found that
"Nearly half of survey respondents said if poor people really want to work, they can always find a job. And about a quarter believed that people are poor because they are lazy."

Read More Here   http://ca.news.yahoo.com/dignity-project-launches-tuesday-aims-educate-canadians-poor-20110228-210100-745.html

Salvation Army Dignity Blog

Resources you may find interesting.

Covenant House- Vancouver


Providing love and hope to Vancouver's street youth

Covenant House Vancouver exists for those young people for whom there is often no one else — young people aged 16 - 24 who have fled physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse, those who have been forced from their homes or those who have aged out of foster care.

We bandage their cut-up feet from days and nights walking the streetsgive them hot food and a warm bed and support them in their choice to change their present circumstances while helping them heal from past traumas.

Covenant House relies on the generosity of over 50,000 individuals and organizations to provide shelter, food, clothing and counseling to over 1,700 young people each year.


I didn't even address all the people that fall between the cracks for their age. Either to young or to old, many people are just never in the right age bracket for the government sponsored programs

They province is so highly regulated with rules, it's much more difficult for people to create work. Social Media is helping though

Through Social Media people that are fortunate enough can have a voice and share with others and hopefully enlighten others. http://socialmediasuperhero.blogspot.com/

With Empathy and Effort we can change things around. There is hope, but it's going to take a lot of Change. 

We must be Changemakershttp://www.changemakers.com  

Changemakers is a community of action where we all collaborate on solutions

One thing we can also do is teach children empathy and understanding of the poor by traveling to some place where there is poverty. Instead of going on a cruise or to an all inclusive resort try something different.

For what they cost you could easily live months in a rural area in Mexico or some other country. Living in the area in a modest way and grasping the realities of the struggles of the local people. This will impact your child in unimaginable ways and empower them.
Adventurez in Mexico http://adventurezinmexico.blogspot.com

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