21 Sep 2018

Living on the bread line, small acts of kindness keeps me alive.

From an article By Mick Smart

Amethyst DeWilde’s  "Life on the breadline, pride is a luxury I can no longer afford."

Recently I had a discussion with my GP worker. Someone who comes once a week to check on me, help with practical things, chat with me if I’m low ... truly the ONE program that has done more to keep me sane than any other service.

We spoke about the changes to her funding and I asked what she would do if it dried up. She said that she would have to move to the country because there was no way that she would be able to afford city rent on Newstart.

I again thanked the gods for subsidised housing and was reminded of a conversation I had had with a new friend I had made from the Anti-Poverty Network.

He put in excess of 350 job applications before he was able to find employment. I had joked in the past with my terrible Australian humour, “You know I just don’t think you’re really trying – you really should pull your finger out and try a little bit harder!” Thankfully he shared the joke and laughed as well.

As we sat outside on the asphalt he told me that he had been two weeks short of becoming homeless. I asked him what he would have done if that had been the case. He simply replied that he would have topped himself. He stated it without rancour or exaggeration. It was just the truth.

This man has children. He is intelligent, well-educated and seems kind. If someone like him can be pushed to such extremes, how are those of us who were brought up without his opportunities faring?

How many people have killed themselves in desperation? How many people are we losing?

Writing this article is beginning to wear on me so I’ll change tack and let you into a secret. It is what keeps us sane, and it’s not shared among the solvent so you’re very lucky you are reading this.

When you are penniless you are given a gift. A gift of seeing people as they really are. People are kind. People do care. It happens in myriad ways, unexpectedly and without fanfare. When it does, it fills your heart and overflows into your soul and life is wonderful because you are seen. Somebody kind cares and acts accordingly.

The shop assistant in Coles who pays for your toilet paper from the left-behind change to stop you from putting it back.

The anonymous somebody who sends you a $20 note assiduously wrapped in alfoil through the mail. (That made me cry).

Life on the breadline: Knowing what you can live without becomes an essential skill

Last week was Father’s Day. I suppose because I had been so very unwell, it crept up on me. Generally I buy my presents throughout the year and put them in a cupboard ready for the occasion, but Father’s Day dawned and I had nothing.

I checked my bank accounts. Oh salubrious day, I was solvent! I had $4.50 in my account. Wacko! I knew that Coles had Old Gold chocolate on special for $2.50 and I could get a card for $1 at Smokemart. Chocolate achieved, now for the card.

No go. The shop assistant advised me that the minimum I could buy on card was $5.

I tried my purse and was 20 cents short. I smiled and said that I would go to Coles and get the dollar out in cash.

Then I heard a voice say in broken English. “How much for to pay? I give to her? I pay.” I turned and saw two young male immigrants standing patiently in line. “20? I pay for her 20 cent.”

Tears sprung to my eyes and I hugged him. “Thank you so much. This is for my father. Thank you so much!” I hugged him again and he smiled. “I am happy,” he responded.

My father loved the card. But he loved the story more.

This is what keeps me going, people are kind.

Oh, my dog Mojo's love which is free is my most valued thing in my life.

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