04 October 2008

Podcast: Stories of Poverty in the First Person - Rayna

A podcast reading from the book Policies of Exclusion, Poverty & Health: Stories from the front. Compiled, with Introduction and Reports by Chrystal Ocean. Copyright 2005.

I was pretty outgoing as a really young child. If I thought something was crap, I would say so. The first time my mom took out her stuff on me, I sat her down the next day and said, "You got a little out of control." Just had this rational discussion! I was 7…

We moved to different neighbourhoods and I wound up at a really tough school; I got beaten up at school everyday for a couple of years. It was ironic. I got beaten by a gang of girls on the same bridge that [14-year-old] Reena Virk died under. Of course, I was supposed to come home with A’s and B’s. It just wasn’t happening. So I’d get beaten up at home as well.

Rayna has struggled with depression and anxiety most of her life. Now on disability benefits, she is trying to maintain a part-time job, more for the sake of her self-esteem than for any bit of extra money she might earn. In fact, Rayna faces strong disincentives to work, including employment expenses which are not included in Ministry calculations.

Rayna also faces other barriers: finding housing which allows pets, her pets having been her lifeline; and earning enough money in any given week to keep up with the interest charged on an original $180 payday loan.

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