Some kids came to sleep with us last night. There are 7 of us sleeping outside this year for Operation Come Home. Myself, Shaun Vardon of CTV and the Ottawa Senators, and 5 college kids from Algonquin and Ottawa U who work with the OCH kids regularly. Soliciting donations at the William Street mall downtown (near the Scotiabank on Rideau).
Last night, I took a tour around the market with an older homeless man named Dennis who, among other things, is a fantastic guitar player. He pointed out the hangout areas to me. Dennis has been homeless, off and on, since the age of 14. he knows the streets. He showed me the prostitutes and told me exactly when they turned to prostitution. That one, a month ago. That other one, a year ago. Her, two weeks. He made a good point. When kids go to the streets to escape abusive homes, that’s one thing. When it’s a rebellion, that’s another. Initially it’s a rebellion that says “I’ll do what I want to do and screw you”. And if you were to ask the prostitutes, they would say the same thing – “I do what I want, when I want”. Of course, this isn’t quite true. No one WANTS to be a prostitute. But they have now confused their initial “I do what I want” rebellion with “I won’t do what you want me to do”. It becomes a situation where NOT doing what most people do is the end in itself. And often, at that point, it’s too late.
A wise man, that Dennis. Wise and homeless and too old for OCH. That’s all we’re trying to do is prevent the young ones from becoming homeless for life.