This week in our StreetWise writers workshop we read the poem Tweedledum and Tweedledee. We discussed and wrote about how need and fear (like the monstrous crow in the poem) can encourage people to forget their quarrels. We agreed that sometimes dire need and great fear results in people understanding that they must help each other through difficult times.
I live by myself and I always help my family out because we have been homeless for fourteen years. We struggle with life issues such as getting enough groceries, clothing, finding places to sleep and finding employment. We struggle also with health issues such as diabetes, anxiety and depression. Still, as a family we know we must support and help each other.
In my experience many people do not help each other out and do not care enough about the way other people are feeling. Many people are not sensitive to those who must live on the street and who have no proper support from their own family and friends. Sometimes people who do not have support systems and need help the most, even find ways to hurt themselves instead of finding the help they need.
I have grown up and graduated from high school. Now I write songs, stories and plays. But the most important work I have is to help people out with my prayers and with my example. My goal is to try to stop people from going down the wrong path and to show them the positive ways to improve their lives. I think the best thing I can do is to help people out with food, clothing, prayers, and the support of friendship and love.
Homelessness and the Problem of Recidivism.
Over the years I have made changes in my own life and I now have employment as a vendor at StreetWise. I live in Uptown and have watched the area go through many changes over the years. We have three homeless shelters in Uptown, but still many people sleep on the street. They are called “Street People” or “Tent People.”
Both the women’s and men’s shelters are packed with people coming home from the penitentiary. Because their parole officers have very few places to house them, many of these people struggle to get into safe housing and there is very little financial help available to allow them basic needs or bus fare. Without transportation it is hard for people to find employment or to find better housing.
Children struggle along with their mothers in these and other situations that contribute to homelessness. Domestic violence is one of the big issues battered women and their children face. This kind of violence particularly contributes to safe housing challenges.
Recently I sat with a young mother with four children who had nowhere to go for the night. DPHS could not find an open shelter to house them for the night and it broke my heart. This woman was only twenty eight. All of her children were dirty and cold. They were poorly dressed with no coats and the baby had no clean diapers. All of them were sick. The young mother had just left an abusive relationship and that was a good choice for her and her babies.
But the mother’s immediate situation was serious and her problems were difficult to solve quickly. I could tell she was a good mother who loves her children. I hope and pray she gets the help she needs.
We need to help the homeless with their struggle to make changes in their lives. They need safe housing, school, job and skill training, food, clothing and most of all the support and understanding of their communities.
Tweedledum and Tweedledee Agreed to Have a Battle
This poem reminds me of the gangs in the black communities who agree to have battles with each other over turf, territory and positions of power. When the battles are over and the turf is controlled, the goal of who controls drug distribution is decided. These drugs kill more people and further erode the communities. We group together to mourn and protest loss of innocent life and the collateral damage of crime in our communities.
At the same time we are facing terrible police brutality. Sometimes our protests against this police brutality also seems to bring us momentarily together.
We need to learn that it is in our best interest to work together constructively. Not just to protest. Not just to win turf. We need to help each other. By helping each other we also help ourselves. This will help our communities be better, safer and stronger. This will help the individual find his or her best and strongest self.