February 19, 2013

Who Run The World? GIRLS! ... Apparently not.

My family and I attended a free screening of the short documentary, "A Long Journey Home: The Rainier Story" yesterday. It is the story of a Downtown Eastside (DTES) treatment centre for women, The Rainier Hotel, which has recently lost their government funding.

I didn't realize until recently that of the many programs meeting various needs in the DTES, there are few treatment programs (this might be the only one, actually) that focus on Women's rehabilitation. This is shocking to me. Are we the only people in the world that don't understand that educating and empowering women is fundamental for a functional society? We carry, birth, and (mostly) care for children, so without women we have no society, right? So why aren't we treated that way?

It was so inspiring to hear Rainier residents speak. These women who have been entrenched in various addictions, abuse, and sometimes prostitution, are now beginning to see their worth and build up their confidence, they are beginning to have contact with estranged family members, they are starting to volunteer and give back in their community. All because they feel supported by Rainier staff, because someone decided to give a damn about them. But funding for that staff is being taken away and with that, the hope these women have begun to feel for their future. Click over to Twitter to find out how to help SAVE THE RAINIER.  

And now, I warn you, I am going to go on a bit of a rant . . .

I looked at the women last night and thought, "these are someone's daughters, sisters, nieces, cousins, wives, mothers." They are all these things to all these people and yet have apparently never felt loved or supported enough by any of them. Shame on us! What are we missing in our own families, our own communities? We treat these women like crap, even though it could be any of us in their situation needing support. When women fall on hard times and are less than the caregivers, providers, partners that we expect them to be, how do we help them? Apparently, we don't. We send them away or ignore them or say "That could never be me!" When I spend time with people who are down on their luck, I think, "It's sure NICE of me to come off my middle class high horse to hang out with them, aren't I so GOOD?!" And that's easy for me to think because I'm sure I'd never have it so rough. But who's to say I wouldn't?

I am fortunate enough to have grown up in a loving family surrounded by supportive friends and community, I have not suffered abuse, and I have a supportive husband who is involved in our son's life. So, I think, if something terrible happened people would surround me and help me out and I could get through it without turning to drugs or alcohol or harming myself. But what if it wasn't enough? What if my husband or my child was murdered, then what? Can I really say that I would be able to pull it together, that I would accept the help my family wanted to give me? Can I really say that I would never turn to vices to escape my horrid situation? Of course not. I could literally be one tragedy away from crumbling to the ground and not knowing how to pick myself up. And if that happened to you or to someone you loved, wouldn't you want to know that there was a supportive program like The Rainier there to help?