Larissa’s Journey is a blog series that we hope will offer insight and understanding into the lives of one of the young people in the Innercity Arts program. We hope to raise awareness, challenge misconceptions, and honestly reflect the lives of those who call the streets their home. This blog is the more detailed account of Larissa’s on air presentations on Family Radio CHRI, 99.1 fm, each weekday at 8 am and 5 pm. Thanks for listening.
I got off the streets, because I got pregnant.
I stayed at a male rooming house when I was pregnant. Then my partner went off to jail, and I went to Windsor to see my mom. It didn’t go well. She was on crack and kicked me out. She kept her crack pipe behind the garbage pail in the kitchen. Her crack dealer was coming over all the time, and she kicked me out because she was too nervous to deal with things in the right way.
Eventually I got back to Ottawa, and stayed at the family shelter motel. I had my daughter while I was living there. Children’s Aid deemed my place unlivable, so I went to another shelter and my daughter was placed in care. It was hard to give my daughter up, but I couldn’t look after her properly.
Later on I put her up for adoption, but it’s an open adoption, and I can visit her. I don’t visit her, because I think it would be too hard for her. Maybe some day I will. I get letters twice a year with pictures of my daughter. She is five years old.
I stayed at the shelter until I got Ottawa housing, probably about six months. I’m still in Ottawa Housing in a one bedroom apartment. They sprayed my apartment for bed bugs and cockroaches some months ago, but yesterday they showed up again. The exterminators don’t know why the problem continues, and they are investigating.
In my first apartment I hit my head on the bathtub – real bad. It was like someone grabbed me and smashed my head against the tub. I fell. I woke up the next day in the tub. I never went to the hospital.
Editor: Please stay tuned to Family Radio CHRI 99.1 weekdays at 8 am and 5 pm as Larissa next shares how she first connected with OIM’s Innercity Arts and Choir programs. Then come back to this blog and read the full length episode in Larissa’s own words.
Our main goal at Innercity Arts is to make every youth feel loved. We don’t want the youth to just feel accepted or respected or tolerated. No….we want them to feel loved.
And they are easy people to love. They are funny, creative, talented, thoughtful….and so many other things. But I think it can be easy to love someone but sometimes it’s harder to feel loved. Especially if you’ve felt unloved for a long time. So my hope is always that the youth know we love them.
One night after our art program, one of the youth wrote this on her Facebook page: “I am always completely blown away by how much the Ottawa Innercity Ministries cares for its kids in their art program. We are a family, and they know that, and they don’t just treat us as a family, they treat us as their own family. The care these people put into the program for us is outstanding.”
Reading this meant so much to me. It meant that this young person felt loved by us.
30 Days of Prayer, 30 Seconds Each Day, In Honour of Our 30th Anniversary
This story is part of A Special Series this month in honour of OIM’s 30th Anniversary. We hope to raise awareness, challenge misconceptions, and honestly reflect the lives of those who call the streets their home. As you reflect on these stories, please take a moment to PRAY EACH DAY – just 30 seconds, in fact – for our ministry’s needs, including a permanent location for our Innercity Arts Program for Youth.
Thanks and God Bless You.