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I’m not feeling well-inspired these days. Life’s been rough for weeks now.
It’s challenging to live with a chronic illness, as many that do, know so well. It robs you of your energy. It robs you of your abilities. It robs you of your freedom.
Yet, there are positive aspects to the experience of disease. It’s taught me about what’s really important in life. It’s taught me about gratitude. It’s taught me that even though I don’t have a post-secondary degree in anything, I still have much to offer.
One of the experiences RA disease is giving me is the opportunity to live in poverty. Living in poverty has forced me to reach out to agencies and groups in the community.
When I worked full-time, the network of community supports just wasn’t on my radar at all.
I had no idea that people on social assistance received $599 per month for housing and food and the people on disability received $1,064. Nor, did I know that the affordable housing wait-list is six years long and the majority of the food available at the food banks is either canned or packaged.
Living in poverty is an educational experience.
As well as being educational, it is giving me an opportunity to participate in community work and to develop skills in areas such as advocacy, public speaking and writing articles.
In addition, I’m learning about the various levels of governments and the procedures in which they operate.
I’m mostly involved with a group called, Awareness of Low Income Voices – ALIV(e). We have a website and a new blog.
ALIV(e) is a collaborative group of individuals dedicated to bringing an active and positive voice to individuals and families who are experiencing or who have experienced poverty level living in the Waterloo Region.
ALIV(e)’s goal is to educate the public about the impact of poverty on peoples’ lives, to inform the public about changes in policy as it applies to those who live at poverty level, and to share information on available resources that may not be well known to the general public.
On the blog’s “About” page we state;
Poverty (for the most part) is not a choice. Many of the people who live in poverty experience challenges and barriers that create obstacles to rise above their situations.
Societal attitudes, social policy issues and systematic barriers, as well as low wages, disabilities, psychological or emotional factors, illness, single-parent families are among the challenges faced by those who live in poverty.
My personal story is an example of how someone who once had a full-time job ended up in poverty through a debilitating illness.
Others end up in poverty due to mental health issues, undiagnosed learning disabilities, psychological and emotional disturbances or disability due to accident.
All want to work, but find it hard to do so without considerable outside supports which, by the way, are non-existent.
From time to time, I hear comments from those not living on social assistance. Some of the comments are things like; they’re lazy, they get “free money”, they’re ripping off the system, they’re deadbeats…
I have to say, this makes me sad.
The majority living on assistance are truly needy individuals who deal with significant challenges.
It’s equally sad to see that when governments have cuts to make, they tend to target the social assistance programs. Why? Because they can.
After all, it’s the poor. They have no high-powered lobby activists to make deals on their behalf. They have no bargaining power.
It seems, quite frankly, the poor don’t have rights.
It seems, they don’t have the right to live with dignity and respect. It seems, they don’t have the right to a hopeful future.
Poverty is growing in cities and rural areas all over the world. Yet, many of us want to ignore it because it doesn’t affect us. Many of us still have our jobs.
It is wonderful to have jobs and hopefully governments will help create more jobs. The more jobs, the better. But, let us not forget and leave behind those who deal with significant challenges and barriers to employment.
I urge people to look into the social assistance policies in their cities and countries to see if they will adequately meet the needs of one who is unable to work.
And if one is fortunate enough to “have it all covered”, maybe rallying around those who “don’t have it all covered” will be the push that governments need to create policies that provide adequate safety nets for those in need.
Please visit the ALIV(e) blog to read my article, “Exploring Social Welfare Abroad”.
Thank you very much for reading and leaving your comments. Wishing all a wonderful weekend!