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I doubted how I should write this; perhaps a clean fluffy piece that washes over the systemic issues at the root, or the gritty and dark. But neither would do justice to the gravity of the poverty issue in the city, or the good deed, so many people and organizations are doing every day. Here is my experience of OrganiGiving, 2017.
The morning did not start well. I was cold, felt groggy, and the coffee I ordered wasn’t as good as I had hoped. After drinking the coffee anyway and devouring a dangerously good, Almond & Chocolate Croissant, I wandered through Gastown, over to the Downtown Eastside. Organika was handing out sandwiches, food, clothing, and blankets. This was the fourth year in a row that Organika has done this, but my first time participating in such event. I don’t think, anyone could have prepared me for the rawness of the poverty there, just a few short blocks from my Brazilian single origin latte with house-made almond milk; it definitely put my tempest in a teapot, I had that morning, into perspective.
It’s hard to see and harder to describe. The Metropolis effect Vancouver has; the Downtown Eastside really is, its own universe in the city. My boss smiled at me, grabbed a few bags and headed off engaging with everyone that came his way; I tried to follow suit. I must confess, I felt uncomfortable at first, but everyone I encountered was grateful and polite; Shattering any fears I had. Amongst the broken bottles and lost ways, a lot of good was happening to make things better.
I feel dizzy at the complex and passionate, conversation: How we, as a society, have ended up like this. I’ll rephrase that – it has not ended. We have propped mountains on matchsticks, but we can rebuild, from the ground up. Small pockets of empathy and connection make the difference.
In between a wall of splintered posters, torn paintwork, scattered graffiti, and hungry faces, I think about that conversation. I don’t have all, if any, of the answers – or the questions for that matter. But after engaging with the people Downtown Eastside, I feel compelled to reach out and help in any way I can. OrganiKares has done a lot in recent years, but after being heartbroken by what I saw, I would like to say that, we will be doing a lot more in 2018 to support all communities Vancouver. I don’t say any of this with anger, but there’s a fine line between anger and hunger; hungry for change, but change comes slowly to those with bellies full.
We have been very fortunate this year, and in 2018, we will be paying it forward, contributing the great work done in the city and nationwide. Please join us in the spirit of giving and paying good fortune forward, and contribute to the fantastic work done by, Insite, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Atira Women’s Resource Society and many others. Through OrganiKares, Organika’s Charity initiative, we have worked to raise money for the children’s hospital, and deliver food and blankets to the Eastside in our 30 days of OrganiGiving in November – But this is just the beginning. Let’s pay it forward together.
-Organika’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team.