Wednesday, 14 September 2011
UGM - youth drop in
Solemnly they walked through the line. Some smiled, other wouldn’t make eye contact, but most said thanks. I offered them mixed peas and corn, but most rejected them, so there were many left when I went and found someone I knew with whom I could sit. The lighting was dim, and the atmosphere was mellow. Earlier they had told us that there were black lights in the bathroom so people could not find their veins and inject drugs, I could not get the image out of my mind. I found myself in a conversation with a youth I didn’t know, and as was best, she did most of the talking. She was homeless. She had been kicked out of one shelter, not allowed in another, and the rest were forbidden to her for she was only fifteen; only fifteen yet homeless. Something from deep within me burned against this injustice. I felt utterly useless, and angry that there was nothing I could do to help this girl, this child. I wanted to storm up to the gates of those agencies and beg that they let her in. She had been kicked out of the one place because her skirt was too short. Her skirt was too short; had they even thought to offer her anything else to wear. I knew I was only hearing her side of the story, but that didn’t matter. There was no reason which I could comprehend that justified having a fifteen year old sleep on the streets. On the filthy perilous streets of East Hastings. I wished I could have offered her a home, a family, and some love, but I was there only to leave again. She couldn’t escape her situation but in a few days I would get in the 15 passenger van and drive home. I offered her all I could; I listened, and in doing so I received more than I could have given. I received a passion, a passion that ten years later continues to fuel what I do. Black lights in the bathroom. Unwanted peas and corn. Dim lights where they ate their food. Rejected teen. I was only 13.