Lost words

Forgotten Children

Saturday, 12 March 2011, 8:54 AM

No one ever said that being a kid was easy.. peer pressure, making friends, bullying, not to mention having to learn things in school that will help you get a good job when your older and have your own family.. My own childhood wasn’t exactly normal, but I know many other kids had it even worse than me.. It would seem that the show “Leave It To Beaver” was very fictional.. no-hard working father who spends quality time with his children, no stay at home mother who always listens and never gets upset, no understanding older brother who includes you in his plans.. such a storyline, even for the 1950′s, was as far out there as StarTrek would be a decade later..

still it seems, due to the current economy, children in the US have one other problem that I don’t remember hearing about when I was young.. homelessness..

When Dicken’s wrote “Oliver Twist”, he put a spin on homeless children that made us almost wish we were them.. all the fun they had being in a gang and stealing for food.. sadly, that too is fiction.. here are some facts however that are real.

According to the National Poverty Center, over 15 million children lived at or below the poverty line in the United States as of 2008.
Since the recession, the U.S. has lost over 7.5 million jobs, and it will be a very long time before those jobs are recovered.
There were over 1 million foreclosures last year, and there are another million expected this year.
The poverty threshold is if a family of four makes less than $22,000 a year
What this means is that due to jobs being so hard to find, parents are loosing their homes and being forced into shelters or into the kindness of their family or neighbors. With these parents are their children. When you have a house, you tend to collect enough things to fill it but when you loose that house, all your belongings need a place to go so many people put them in storages. When you can’t afford to pay your storage bill, then the storage company will auction them off to the highest bidder.. Your memories, your toys, everything you couldn’t carry around with you is given a price tag and sold.

Many parents have found ways to earn just enough money to rent a hotel room.. not for a couple days, but as long, in some cases, as a year or two. This forces entire families to live together in one room. School busses now stop in front of hotels and motels every morning. Sometimes, the free lunch program at school is the only decent meal these children have all day..

According to government projections, inside of one year, 1 in 4 – of this nation’s children will be living in poverty or living on the streets. Children will learn about hunger not from textbooks or fictional stories like Oliver Twist, but from real life. I saw an interview with some of these children and the reporter asked them if they knew about hunger and one boy said “yes, it’s so painful you can’t sleep, you spend hours and hours just turning over and never fall asleep”.. I believe he was lying for the camera, because hunger IS painful (the worse kind of cramps you can ever know) but sleeping is not a problem. When I was 18, I lived on the streets myself and I experienced this hunger.. I was down to half the weight I am today and I remember eating a tootsie pop one day because that was the only thing I could afford. You drink alot of water and you sleep often as it’s the only escape from the pain of the cramps.

Many people will argue: “why don’t these families go to homeless shelters?” and the answer is easy.. Every homeless shelter will separate them. The men will live in one place and the women in another. Keeping the family together, even if it is in a motel room, is the most important thing. To know you are with the ones whom love you will help get you through the hard times.

My heart goes out to these children, in some ways I can understand what they are experiencing as moving around from home to home growing up will leave you feeling as if you somehow missed something important in your childhood.. seeing your friends have that stability you lack makes you feel less worthy as a child. I know how much I hated sharing “my” room with another kid, but to have to share the ONLY room with your entire family.. these children really need someone in their families to reach out to them and tell them that what is happening is not their fault and they are worthy and loved.

So many things children today have to deal with.. I wish that organized religion would do MORE than run soup kitchens (which is a good start) by opening the doors to their churches for these families during the week, if every church housed 10 families… They already have the rooms..

yea, me being a dreamer again..

~ Daniel

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