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Executive Director’s Blog – Week Without 2018

‘Week Without’ – This seemed like a great fundraising idea when we were planning it. A week where each of us, as a staff team would give something up in our lives to have a greater understanding of the challenges of the poor in our communities. The challenge, however, is when the planning becomes a reality and you realize what you have gotten yourself into.

This happened to me once before on a fundraiser. About 5 years ago I decided, along with a friend, to canoe 105 miles along a canal in the UK. I’d done a bit of canoeing but nothing of a significant distance. I thought I was fit enough but 10 minutes into the 4 day journey, I realized what I had gotten myself into.

I finished that challenge, (mainly because I am determined and stubborn and once I have accepted a challenge, I will complete it) but tough does not begin to describe it adequately.

Once again, here I am, a little more than half way through a fundraising challenge to raise money for Christians Against Poverty Canada and I am struggling, a lot. For my ‘week without’, I decided to sleep in my car for the week instead of my bed, and to only eat plain white rice. How hard can it be? Just like camping in my car and not eating as much as normal, right? Wrong! So unbelievably wrong.

I don’t know if you have ever slept in your car, or seriously restricted calorie intake for any length of time, but it is far harder than you would imagine. To start with, sleeping in a car is uncomfortable. At this time of year in Canada it is still cold (-5 at night) and to top it off, you are vulnerable and exposed. The last 3 nights, I have been petrified that someone would break into the car with me in it, or set fire to the car.

I’m only eating rice for a week. Not so bad, right? Rice is the staple of more than 60% of the world’s people. I am 4 days in and now I would rather go without any food than have another bowl of plain white rice with no flavour or substance.

This ‘week without’ is affecting my mental health as I become more paranoid by the night and have had limited sleep. It’s also affecting my physical health as I am dehydrated, constantly hungry, losing focus, lacking energy and feel sick and dizzy. This week without is affecting my relationships as I become grumpier and more withdrawn.

So why am I doing it and why will I keep going? The organization I lead here in Canada provides completely free, professional and unique credit counselling to those in poverty. Because it is free, we need to raise money to keep it free, so the poorest have access to high quality, holistic services, like ours, run in partnership with local churches. I am doing this because I also want to raise awareness of the hundreds of thousands of people that live like this day in day out. They aren’t just doing it for a week, they live in it constantly.

The poor are being forgotten and left behind and I am not content to sit by and do nothing, when we can and are doing something about it. We need to keep going and keep growing as an organization so that no-one in this nation has to live life like this. 1 in 4 of the clients we help have no food in the house at all when we go to help them, 27% of our clients said unmanageable debt caused their relationship to breakdown entirely and 38% of our clients were suicidal because of debt.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but it will remain as it is unless you and I  do something about it. What can you do?

If like me, you look at this injustice and you can’t sit by and do nothing, then please support our work and help us with this fundraiser. You can go to this link to find out more

Together, we can tackle debt, poverty and it’s causes across this nation and impact one life at a time. Join us!

Chris Brown
Chris Brown

Chris Brown is the Executive Director of Christians Against Poverty Canada.