THIS CHRISTMAS WE’RE ALL HUMAN
It’s easy to forget how privileged our lives really are. I went to Adelaide yesterday to see a friend who had been taken to hospital to have his appendix out.
I jumped on the internet, found a flight and flew over as quickly as I could. When I arrived at the emergency ward, he’d been patiently waiting for ten hours, still in need of a bed in a ward and still waiting to find out when he’d be operated on. The nurse said he might have to wait another two days.
It seemed so unfair and ridiculous. Two days? For emergency surgery? What kind of hideous world are we living in? I left him late that night, neither of us knowing how much longer he’d have to wait.
Fiddling around on Twitter back in my hotel room, I found a tweet from the food blogger, Sophie McComas. Her flatmate, James, had given a cup of tea to a homeless woman he’d found asleep on their doorstep.
A few days later, Sophie and James found a Christmas card in their mailbox saying, “Thank you for treating me like a normal person. I’m very grateful for your kindness and a sweet cup of tea. Merry Christmas and an exciting New Year.”
It made me pull my head in. Here I was, able to fly at a moment’s notice without any thought. My friend, although waiting, was safely asleep in a hospital bed with a team of people looking after him. I was getting uppity because things weren’t happening fast enough for my liking. The woman James had found had absolutely nothing and was sleeping in a doorway. A cup of tea had meant the world to her.
It’s so easy to not only take our own comfort for granted, but to forget that we’re all in the same boat. The only difference between us who have everything (and we do have everything) and those on the street is, in many cases, sheer dumb luck.
People don’t wind up homeless on purpose or because they deserve it.
Any one of us could find ourselves in a difficult situation—a catastrophic illness that bankrupts you, a bad marriage break up that leaves you without a cent to your name, an undiagnosed mental illness rendering you incapable of making the sorts of decisions necessary to fend for yourself effectively. Becoming homeless is, frighteningly, far easier than many of us think.
Worryingly, the number of homeless women over 55 is growing. These are women who were married young and have either never worked, or worked so little that they have no superannuation or money of their own. When their marriages end, these women find themselves not only completely socially isolated and broke, but without any of the skills many of us take for granted.
Finding a job or a flat for the very first time when you’re 60 years old, have no fixed address and no idea how to put together a resume nor find references is no easy feat. Add a violent partner and a lack of education to the mix and the uphill battle becomes almost vertical.
|Page 1 of 2||next >>|