These are Real Stories, of Real People, Experiencing Homelessness
She struggled to get in the doorway. She was at least 350 pounds, and was having a hard time walking. She needed a wheelchair, or a Walker…”the kind with the wheels on it” she said.
I asked her, What can I do for you today?
“Sit down! Sit down and be still!” she said to the 4 year old girl that was with her. They were both light skinned and had similar features, so I figured it was her daughter.
“Ok, so let me tell you…” she started.
“I have a daughter, and we been staying with her. It’s about 5 us in a little 2 Bedroom house…we are sleeping on the floor. We came here originally after Katrina, and things were going pretty good, but then I lost my job, and…well…”
She had that infamous New Orleans French Creole accent. I always liked that accent.
“See this ‘lil girl here…her mama…she…I don’t even know where she is” she said referring to the child she arrived with.
“Oh, that’s not your baby” I asked.
“Nope…she kinda look like me though don’t she? Nope, she ain’t mine…she was just…given to me.”
That statement blew my mind to the extent that I did not want to know the remainder of that story. Who on Earth would just “give up” a beautiful child? Why? It made no sense to me. I chose not to ask.
“Cuz…you know…I’m positive.” she continued.
“Positive…about what?” The look on her face let me know that was the stupidest question I had asked all day.
“HIV Positive” she replied. “I’m on medication, and it’s made it hard for me to…man…I just need a wheelchair. All my medication is still in New Orleans.”
She proceeded “so, we been back and forth. I only came back in January for a Court date, to get custody of her. All my family in New Orleans. But, the Court date got pushed back, so we been here since January, just waiting on the next court date. As soon as that’s done, I’m going back to New Orleans…if I can. Problem is, my legs go numb every time I sit down…so… Do ya’ll have a wheelchair? Also, I need an ID so I can apply for food assistance.”
The rest of the conversation had nothing to do with her being HIV Positive. In fact, as I think about it in hindsight, there was no reason for her to tell me that. Perhaps it had become such a burden for her, that she had began to define herself by her condition. Perhaps it made her feel better to just “Lay that out there.” Perhaps she has been judged and criticized based on this condition before.
The child she was with, was perhaps the most notable victim of these circumstances. I wondered what the long-term mental and emotional effects may be, should she ever become older, only to find that she was “given up”, for one reason or another.
I went home thinking…some people are Homeless, and Sick, with a Small Children, and are barely able to walk…
If we will just stop to imagine, for one second, that one day, our circumstances may be similar to those experiencing homelessness, then we have made the first step towards finding the desire to make a difference!
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