Sunday, March 6, 2011

25 million

By chance, I happened to see this evening's 60 Minutes. I say 'by chance' because we don't have cable and only get about 3 channels, so it's not often I'm sitting in front of the TV. But this evening, my husband made a roaring fire (in the fireplace) and I couldn't resist curling up on the couch and looking for something to watch. Now I'm wondering how to share the story. About half way through the segment I began frantically looking for a pen and paper to take notes, but we all know how that turned out.

How is it possible that within a year approximately 25 million American children, 25%, will be living below the poverty line? Right now, that number is about 20 million. In tonite's segment, Homeless Kids: the hard-times generation, Scott Pelly interviews a group of children in Florida whose families have recently become homeless as a result of the recent great depression. These bright, beautiful, articulate, children describe what it's like to go to bed hungry, the shame of living in their mini-van in a WalMart parking lot, having the electricity shut off and doing homework by candle light, the fear of stigma should friends discover their secret, the fear that they are somehow responsible, the shame of seeing your father stand on the side of road with sign - begging for work.

I can tell you that despite the misery, every family, every story, shared a simple dignity, and great love that enabled them to persevere. And like many stories of suffering, there was also a redemptive theme of kindness. To the neighbours who opened their home to family who had lost theirs, we will be sending you dakbands, to the woman who found a job for the father with the sign, we will be sending you dakbands....and to all the families, and children who had the courage to share your story, we will be sending you dakbands. And to the ninety some odd people who left offers of help within moments of the show ending.....your kindness has not gone unnoticed.

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