The Fine Line (Tamara)

Tamara is the woman I told you of being introduced to by Johnny, I came across her again a little further down the street. We started to talk again and this time she was explaining her appreciation for me taking the time to talk to her, get to know her. Something a lot of people don’t do, while appreciative of the gifts they were receiving from total strangers throughout the day. The common story came about still remaining anonymous from all of my subjects.

I watched it happen throughout the day, wonderful people offering generous support, gifts and taking the time away from their Christmas with family to do something for others. However amazing this was, people would run from cars and hand them a bag, an envelope or a card and turn around run back to the car and fade off to find another person in need without getting to know any of the people they just helped.

Tamara has been on and off the street for about five years, she feels safer out in the open streets than being in shelters for fear of being hurt, beaten, robbed and has her friends Johnny and her buddy whom I didn’t catch a name to protect her as she does in return for them. I also learned that Toronto offers 11 homeless shelters for men and only 2 for women according to Tamara. She was also turned away from the Salvation Army due to overload. This is still unsafe for her as men and women are both put together in a common area at the Salvation Army.

The two things that bother Tamara the most is being ignored. “I bleed the same colour of blood you do, I cry too” she says. She too received money throughout the evening and knows that she is still going to kicked out of restaurants, when she like everyone else can pay for her own food. The other thing, don’t tell her to get a job, she would love one. A challenge, how does someone from the streets of no fixed address send resume’s. No employer is going to respond to “please meet me at the corner of York and Richmond” as a credible address. Her worn features she says makes people feel intimidated, again how do you build trust when first formed opinions are how a person looks. She is right about everything she said, very sad and true.

Reality is, she is there on the street. But just as easily I could be there at anytime given the right circumstances to fall in place. There is a fine line between safety and the unknown of the streets. Anyone could get there, having to struggle to fit in as a human being again, being kicked out of common places that we once went into freely.

Tamara, thank you for allowing me to capture you! You are an amazing woman, somehow I know if I made it to the streets I know I would be able to call upon you for help. My time in your circle of trust is greatly appreciated.