Pubdate: Sun, 16 Feb 2003
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Times Colonist
Author: Brenda Hrynyk


Re: the "Red Zone" series.

As a former addict, prostitute and drug dealer, I think there are a
few things the public should know.

These people don't wake up one morning and decide to live these kinds
of lives; most do it out of necessity when social programs fail to
help them.

I was a 16-year-old who was abused and could not go home so I lived on
the streets. Social programs refused to help. I sold drugs not to
support my addiction, but to eat and have a place to sleep. With no
self esteem or self worth I felt I had no choice.

Later I turned to prostitution. I had to be high to do that to hide
from the shame and the pain. Things worked out and my life
straightened out. I've been drug-free for many years. I'm one of the
lucky ones.

With all the social cutbacks there will be only more problems, and
suicides. But the governments don't care, that's just that fewer
people to deal with; if they die, they go away.

Social programs are virtually non-existent. As a working single mom of
three with a $9-an-hour job, no roommate and no child support, I owe a
lot and am constantly worried as to where I'll get the money to try to
keep up with bills and feed my family.

If the government would stop lining its own pockets and taxing the
poor to death, things could change. High rent puts places to live out
of reach for many.

Premier Gordon Campbell should spend a week on the street to walk in
these people's shoes. I dare him.

Brenda Hrynyk,

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