A New Member of the (House of Friendship) Family

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My name is Sarah Warren, and I am the new Social Service Intern with House of Friendship for the 2011/2012 year. I’m following in the footsteps of Allison and Emily, the previous interns who have posted here.  I started working with House of Friendship at the beginning of September and, 2 months in, I am loving it! I’m so excited and feel so privileged to be a part of extending a helping hand to those in need and seeing justice come in our community. As my first post on this blog, I wanted to introduce myself a bit, and perhaps provide a snapshot of what has led me to this point.

This past spring, I graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University (here in Waterloo) from the Honours Bachelor of Arts Psychology program. In the near future I plan to obtain my Masters of Social Work (MSW). Since starting university, I have had numerous experiences that have cultivated a really deep desire in me to work with, and fight against, poverty, injustice, oppression and inequality.

Having been to Dhaka, Bangladesh (a country right beside India) twice, I have seen poverty, oppression and injustice at an extreme. In the crowded streets of Dhaka, people of all ages (children, adults and seniors) could be found sitting, standing and laying everywhere, begging for food and money, some with serious physical limitations. Being in this country opened my eyes to the world in need around us, outside of Canada. It’s one thing to read about poverty and injustice around the world, but to be among it for a month at a time is, I found, a different perspective entirely. Witnessing people having as much as one meal a day (and sometimes, not even that) and seeing the poverty that wracks the entire country, broke my heart and sparked in me a desire to work to fight against such injustice. But, I found myself feeling small–what could I, a twenty something woman from Ontario, do in the context of Bangladesh, where the whole country itself (for the most part) is impoverished and food insecure? I could give individuals money for what they said would go toward food, but after that point I would have no control over who gets that money. I could give mangoes to children and adults begging on the street. I could pair this gift of fruit with a friendly smile and my limited ability to speak their language, in attempt to fulfill their physical need for food while attempting to show them that their lives matter and they have value. But I found myself feeling like that wasn’t enough.

What do you do when the problem of poverty and food insecurity is so big that you feel like you can’t do anything to change it at its core? This left me feeling unsettled, and sparked a desire to continue to ask questions about poverty, hunger and injustice.

Also, having worked in a few programs in the downtown Kitchener area over the last five years (specifically at St. John’s Kitchen and also Out of the Cold), I have become increasingly aware of the growing problem of poverty and food insecurity within our own community. Working with and serving the many people in this very city who struggle to make ends meet to get food and/or shelter for themselves or their families, or who find themselves facing emotional challenges, has made me want to help, in any way, whether directly or indirectly.

And so, those experiences among others are what made me so excited to apply to work with House of Friendship in this position. I wanted to learn more about the driving forces of poverty, social injustice and inequality both in a global context and within the Kitchener-Waterloo area. To work with individuals from low-income situations, facing a variety of difficulties and in need of support. As I have been experiencing over the last two months, this unique position has allowed me to do just that. I have been learning so much from those in the community that we serve and interact with, and this internship has given me a chance to see some of the community organizations in place to assist people in need. It has given me a glimpse of House of Friendship as an organization, and the amazing programs that are running to support those in need.

So – that’s a little introduction about me.  I’m excited to write on this blog and share my experience. Next, I’ll fill you in about the different programs that I work with (Emergency Food Hamper Program, Eby Village, Live & Learn, 174 King and the Sunnydale Community Centre).

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One Response to “A New Member of the (House of Friendship) Family”

  1. Gary Chard Says:

    I enjoyed your blog and applaud you for the commitment to those in need. You are working for an exemplary organization in this field. You will learn a lot and be transformed by your experiences, least that’s been my experience!

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