There has been some war going on someplace in the world for years and years now. The war did not have to be where I live. No war is killing people every day. People are starving, and dyeing right now because of war.
I see people struggling to sponsor refugees, to find some way to give these people a better life. One person pointed out the cost to sponsor one adult refugee, $12,600 a year; it was about the same amount as two people on welfare (Ontario works) receive. The amount to sponsor two adult refugees, $21,200 is around what my family of five lives on, with my husband working full time. To sponsor a family of 4 it would cost $27,000. We have many families here already living on less that.
It was also pointed out that any refugees would probably end up living in bug infested homes, because that was what they could afford. Guess what, way too many families currently live in bug infested homes, ants, cockroaches and bed bugs to name a few. Bed bugs alone are epidemic here, and you don’t have to be poor to be one of the people living in those conditions.
There are too many families homeless, trying to live in shelters, little baby’s to seniors and everything in between. There are people living on the streets right now, in our city. There are people going through garbage looking for food, right now. There are people going without the medication or medical help they need here in my country right now because of cut backs and things not being covered anymore.
People working, with homes are struggling to feed their families. Many of us have to make real changes. Meat is becoming so expensive that people just cannot afford it. Meat is one of the things that people have to cut back, reduce portions or simply skip completely. Vegetables and fruits are starting to get expensive as well. Actually everything is becoming far more expensive.
There are a lot of changes, unexpected changes that cannot be ignored. People are going back to an older way to live, growing food, canning and even hunting. One of the things that stood out was the fact that people are going back to eating things that most of us don’t see as food. For example, squirrels. I am part of a BBQ group and one person was so happy because they were able to get a bunch of squirrels and wanted to know how to cook them. They showed the squirrels skinned and prepped for cooking. What was surprising was the number of people with recipes, advice on how to cook them or even pictures of the squirrels they cooked. One man showed two squirrels cooked and ready to eat, and was unhappy because he had only been able to get two for that meal. This was not a random thing, this was a food source for people. They are going for the smaller animals, squirrels, rabbits, and well whatever they can get. There was no embarrassment, or shame in this, it was more pride because they could feed their family. More and more people are out hunting/trapping what they can. People were talking about if it was okay to eat city pigeons verses farm raised pigeons. This is not in a war torn or third world country, but one of the biggest countries, one that is considered wealthy by most. Yet our food banks cannot keep up with the demand. We have people going hungry every single day, real hunger as in that piece of bread is their food for the day. Schools have started snack programs because too many kids don’t have food to eat. (We don’t have lunch programs here)
People are looking into growing what they can in their back yards, balconies and inside their homes. Any space that can be used to grow something to feed your family is going to be used. Even if it is just herbs it helps. We just ordered seeds for things we can grow in our home over the winter. We are putting plastic shelves in our windows so that the plants can get the light they need. We live in a small townhouse with very little space, and no real “growing area”. Our neighbours did not plant flowers this year in the little tiny spot we have to grow stuff. No it was food, tomatoes, lettuce, mint, peppers, etc. We even planted blueberry bushes in our little spot. On a side note several of the neighbours had the food disappear overnight from the front garden spot, because people are hungry. Many people have turned their little cemented back patio into little gardens using flower pots because we are not allowed to put anything on the fence. Last year we were supposed to get a community garden in our complex, like many of the other complexes but somehow that was stopped. There are community gardens showing up all over the place and I am going to have to buy a spot in one of them in the spring seeing as our community garden was stopped.
Old fashioned skills are coming back again. People are canning again. Yes canning. Getting foods as cheap as possible and then canning it so that they will have it later. It is not just farmers anymore. I started canning food a couple years ago. It has made a huge difference on me being able to feed my family and I am not the only one in my area to start. More and more people buying canning equipment and learning every day. Stores that never carried canning equipment suddenly have entire sections dedicated to canning. Canning groups are becoming bigger and bigger every day.
I can no longer turn my head away and try to convince myself that everything is okay. Not when sponsoring a refugee takes more money then what people here are already living with. Not when the conditions that many families live with here are considered unacceptable for a refugee. How can we be trying to help out refugees when we cannot even help out the people already living here? I have to admit I was upset to find out how much money my Government is donating to help out refugees, but children, adults and seniors are living in worse conditions here than what is considered acceptable for a refugee to live under. Please note that I am not saying that the refugees don’t need help, or that they should not get help. They do need help. However, I am saying that there are people right here in my country that also need help and they are not getting it. Why is it okay for many regular citizens of my country to live in conditions not acceptable for a refugee to live in?