Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Finally My Final Thoughts!

Better late then never they say!

I have had one week to reflect on the Poverty Challenge and spend time considering how it had an impact on my life then and going forward. Many people have asked me if it was hard, it really truly was, most of all it was hard on my heart. Ignorance is bliss and having what little bit of ignorance I had left wiped away last week was more difficult then I imaged it would be. Some people asked me if I would write about how I would "get myself out of poverty" or about "how everyone on social assistance should go get a job". What I have taken away from this is that poverty is a full-time job. It is a relentless battle of trying to survive, always working on others schedules and times, always in survival mode. The sense of powerlessness that comes along with always having to have your hand out for something to eat, somewhere to sleep, somewhere to do your laundry or even a pair of socks without a hole is unimaginable. The impact that living below the poverty line has on a persons self-esteem and self-worth are heartbreaking to consider. Never mind adding job hunting, trying to find the time and energy to finish high school or the hours it takes to plan out grocery shopping down to the penny. I truly do not think I would "be able to get myself out of poverty".

During one of my meals I had the honour of sitting with a mother and daughter for lunch. I noticed that this mother did not have a dinner plate in front of her, instead she focused on her daughter who was eating. Once her child said she was full and ran off to play with the other kids, the mother finished what was left on her daughters plate. There was plenty of food that day, and I knew from our conversation that this mom had most likely not eaten yet that day. This small thing, the act of eating what was left of her daughters meal instead of taking a second plate is something I don't see often in my social circles. We live in a world of excess, we show little thought or remorse for wasting food or not finishing our meals, but not everyone in our community lives this way. This is something that has stuck with me. 

Going forward from here I will be more conscious of my choices, but more then that I will be giving back to my community. I have seen the impact volunteers and emergency supports have on our community and those who access these services and it is incredible.

I am fortunate enough that I had the opportunity to 'pay it forward' to those that supported me during the challenge:
- I added a coffee to the community coffee board at Ho Joe's
- I donated two large bins to Jubilee Church, one of men's and women's clothing, the other of kitchenware 
- I brought a night time snack to the Ne-Chee emergency shelter
- I brought socks and underwear to the Fellowship Centre
- My YPN team has signed up to participate in the Hot Meal Challenge this coming year 

My co-challenger Megan did an amazing job of summarizing some of the ways you can pay it forward in Kenora - check it out here! -->

Thank you for taking this journey with me and for reading along. Your words of encouragement, questions and support have been so meaningful. Please consider the messages you took from reading along with each of our journeys and paying it forward in some way. It doesn't have to be monetary - a smile or taking a moment to have a conversation with someone you don't know can go along way!

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