Nov 26 2009
Child poverty is still a big problem in British Columbia. Indeed, our child poverty rate is the highest in the country, and 150,000 kids are affected. It’s hard to imagine so much misery in a society that is one of the wealthiest and healthiest on Earth. Then again, why imagine? You only have to wander over to Vancouver’s downtown eastside to see how people are living on the fringes.
April Smith of Aha Media, 24 and living in the downtown eastside, provides a powerful and moving description of her own challenges in growing up in poverty in Vancouver. You can listen to her full interview on the CBC here.
My hastily done transcription provides the following highlights:
I had parents that were really abusive. There was never enough money. I faced a lot of cruelty. I have a lot of scars on my body. There are more on my soul. It’s something that still affects me today.
I remember being in elementary school and being teased because I didn’t have the proper outfit. I couldn’t go on field trips because we couldn’t afford it. We didn’t have enough food in the house… I remember sleeping in the cold.
It’s been a long journey. I’ve been homeless for many years. I remember sleeping on streets, standing in the food lineups. I’ve been on own since I was 12. I was just trying to survive, standing in lineups, trying to find warm shelter, warm clothes, struggling with my own image, my own self esteem.
Sometimes it meant trying to find protection and shelter in different ways that I never thought I would ever get into. That’s including aligning myself in different relationships. Sometimes with poverty comes violence, trauma and abuse towards women and it can affect the rest of your life.
Learn more about Aha Media’s new-media hyper local citizen journalists, including April Smith, here. They’ve got an incredible story, and this dynamic team helps our community tell incredible stories.
April Smith of Aha Media interviews Jeffrey in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside