Proyecto Visión 21

There is no room for “them” in our society

Francisco Miraval

I never met Katie in person. I know that she is a real person and that she lives in Denver. I recently received some information about her and I can say her expertise, education, and credentials are impeccable.

Katie is still relatively Young. She completed a college degree in theater and liberal studies and worked for more than ten years in non-profit organizations helping people from different ethnic groups. At the same time, she worked in customer service. And she also was a student advisor at a private university.

All that is in itself quite impressive, but Katie was also a volunteer during several years in art projects and in rehabilitation programs for former inmates. She is now completing her master’s degree in organizational leadership.

Katie, mother of two children, defines herself as somebody “with many talents, energetic, and a great sense of humor.” She has been working for 20 years, since her first job as a waitress when she was a teenager.

However, a few weeks ago everything changed for her. Due to “incredible bad luck,” Katie lost her job and she and her children ended up on the street.  In spite of her studies and her many years of helping others, Katie was forced to take her children to a street corner in Denver and beg for money to the drivers stopping at the traffic light.

No driver stopped to help her or to share a few coins. However, a college student (she attends a nearby university) was so moved by the situation of seeing Katie and the children on the street that she decided to help them. That student sent me the story about Katie I am now sharing with you.

I wonder why in a major city like Denver, recently selected by Forbes magazine as the top city in the country for businesses and careers and as one of the best cities in the country because of its economy, an educated, working mother is suddenly homeless and almost without hope of receiving help.

And if that what happened to Katie, what could happen to those without a college degree, without any knowledge of English, or without the proper documents to be in the country?

Katie worked to open doors for others, but then the doors closed in her face. Her story reminded me of another family, two millennia ago, who also was unable to find a proper place to stay and had to stay with animals.

That family was also displaced by circumstances beyond their control and it was also rejected, regardless of their past, resources, or experience. Today, Katie faces a similar situation, a situation we also see in the lives of many immigrants and refugees who are rejected and dehumanized.

Katie’s story has a happy ending thanks to the intervention of a college student who decided to help her. But many other stories are far from being happy, not even during this time of the year where almost everybody wishes happiness to everybody else.

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