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Nov11

Struggling to Make the Month

Author // Jannies Le Categories // From poverty to possibility

Struggling to Make the Month

I didn’t know what to expect when I received the invitation to participate in Make the Month. I thought with determination that I could make it to day 30, because I’ve lived on my own before and was able to budget and provide for myself the basics.

When I began, for each daily decision I chose to be the good person by doing the right thing. I paid all my bills, and helped my friends and family. Halfway into the first week I started making less friendly decisions as my bank account dwindled more and more. I only helped those around me a little bit and paid some of my bills. This was frustrating for me, because in real life that’s something that would bother me a lot. Near the end of week 1, I was in a horrible situation where I had to start saying no to every situation, and drive without valid documents and not help a friend in need because I just didn’t have the funds. On day 9 it was too late for me to adjust my strategy and my simulation was ended by an unexpected expense that wasn’t just a few dollars shy of what I had in the account, but about 300% more.

It was frustrating, so I immediately tried again. This time I started off by only paying half of everything and giving smaller gifts to friends and family. It still bothered me to make the decisions I made, sacrificing my conscience and morals to push until the end of the month. This idea was also short lived as on day 12 another unexpected expense brought my simulation to an end.

I convinced my friend to try it out, his decisions were to not pay anything, but rent. That meant driving around uninsured, not helping family out in cases of emergency and leaving his roommate high and dry. As he was making his selections, I started getting upset at how he could do that to his family and friends and he explained that it was just a game. He got to day 30 and was ecstatic because it was all a game and he had won the game.

Sadly, these experiences and frustrations are not a game for over 220,000 people in Peel - our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family. Unexpected expenses and making difficult decisions are the reality of many households. No one should have to choose between survival, safety, shelter or family.

The experience definitely brought me back to a time when my family used to live in poverty. A time that I don’t think a lot about because the memories of hunger and embarrassment are triggered. I was still lucky then as a child without the responsibilities of my parents to provide for 4 children.

I joined the United Way’s Young Leaders Council to contribute to change in Peel and I hope our team will inspire and encourage more people to join us in this fight against poverty.

About the Author

Jannies Le

Jannies Le

After studying Sociology at York University and Events and Meeting Management at George Brown College, Jannies chose a career dedicated to grassroots non-profit organizations. She is currently working at an Aboriginal Women's Housing agency. She also runs a mentorship program for the Step Up Youth Volunteer Ambassadors of Peel Region. She is currently the Vice Chair of United Way of Peel Region's Young Leaders Council.

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