[Compare this to refugees and the unfairness is glaring]
It says somewhere that abject poverty has no place in a modern city such as Brampton, Ontario.
But, they are so wrong; very wrong.
Call it a shadow. But this reality is substantive. It has human shape and is made up of dreams that have been deferred but are certainly too hard to forget. Lost dreams such as these linger and ought not to be rationalized or explained away.
A very wise old Elder once reminded me that an axle needs only one half a rotation in order to bring the top of any wheel to its lowest place. Faith in each other brings about hopes that each wheel will continue to rotate and that “redemption” can take place.
An ancient looking Baptist Church stands at the corner of Wellington Street and Main Street just a stone’s throw from Brampton’s “Four Corners”. This humble church stands; juxtaposed to Brampton’s City Hall where, each day decisions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars is grist for the mill.
At 2 Wellington Street, East; Brampton’s First Baptist Church is the home of a program called “Redemption”; a non-profit volunteer driven program that feeds empty stomachs by way of kitchen and attempts to restore hope among the tired, the broken and those easily ignored by a society that measures success in more monetary means.
If only Canada’s poor could become refugees in Canada. There would be dancing in the streets.
Canada’s Refugee Generosity
Take a few minutes and chick out how teh Canadian government treats those claiming refugee status in Canada. In none-too-clear disclosure, Citizenship and Immigration Canada admits that each person claiming refugee status in Canada under a scheme called Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP)(http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/manuals/ip/ip03-part2-eng.pdf) is handed the following:
(1) a one time Staples Allowance of $175/person
(2) a Basic Household “needs” allowance (furniture etc) $1330
(3) Standard clothing allowance = $325/person plus additional $250 one year later
(4) Winter clothing allowance = $175/person
(5) transportation allowance = $50 per month /person
(6) Food allowance = $100 per month /person
Our Own Needy Ignored
Things are not so “good ” for Canada’s poor!
On the south side of the church a small garden has taken shape over the years. In it are small stones each containing a name of former “Redemption Clients” who have passed away. The individual stories of those lost lives and (too often) very young lives. There are literally dozens of these humble markers which, for all intents and purpose are the singular memory that these people actually existed.
When I was more nimble, I made a point of visiting this “memorial” and using it as a focus for personal meditation as I tried to grapple with how such a well-to-do society could encourage neglect and indifference.
Periodically, some malicious individuals have demolished this humble memorial and stubbornly, the Redemption Clients have lovingly put it back together. The memorial truly needs to be exactly where it is and ought to elicit genuine concern for the less fortunate, the broken and those who are shunned.
I suspect that humble First Baptist Church’s (Brampton) congregants are struggling with their own finances and it speaks volumes that meager funds find their way into soup pots at Redemption.
There is a large homeless population in and around down town Brampton. Still more reside in precarious housing situations while others are sofa-surfers who move from place to place and rely on the kindness of friends. Larger “soup kitchens” such as the Knights’ Table (on Kennedy Road) are out of reach for the downtown denizens, may just as well be in another town and do not contain folks from the down-town core area.
It is fitting that “Redemption” exists in an actual church such as First Baptist (or any other church). It is a poignant testimonial to words contained in the Gospel of Matthew (25:40) which says, “’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Take a few minutes, and visit the little Memorial Garden. I suspect that you probably knew none of those names on little stones. They are certainly the least of your brothers and sisters.
You can reach Redemption (the place, not the destination) at 647-741-8469. I know for a fact that even a small donation will be gratefully accepted, much appreciated and faithfully applied.
While there, reflect on that little memorial and contemplate your own fortune.
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