Photo: Alain Décarie
PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO FIT THE MOULD
One day not long ago, Geneviève woke up on a park bench, her stomach growling, with not a clue where she could go. She was spending her nights hanging out with street kids.
One night at a party, someone slipped some drugs into her glass and her life was turned upside down. She was diagnosed with bipolar affective psychosis. She tried to go back to CEGEP three times, but it just didn’t work out, what with her illness, the lack of support and not having a place to stay. Even after months of ongoing efforts, she still had no unemployment benefits, welfare or student aid. Luckily, someone put her in contact with L’Itinéraire, where she found her place.
The word camelot (vendor) is used for a person who sells L’Itinéraire magazine on the street. The people who sell L’Itinéraire have experienced extreme poverty, social rejection and, in most cases, homelessness. They have struggled with problems related to alcoholism, drug abuse or mental health issues – and some still are.
Selling the magazine gives people like Geneviève an opportunity to find a job, eat a real meal every day and buy groceries once a week. At L’Itinéraire, they feel that they belong at last and can finally take charge of their lives. Distributing the magazine is certainly much better for their self-esteem than begging. Since Geneviève has had a salary and a place to stay, she’s gone back to school – she wants to be a social worker.
Besides providing jobs for people who are leading marginal lives, Le Groupe L’Itinéraire serves nearly 19,000 meals a year and hopes to create a real community assistance network with about 30 organizations that are committed to helping people find food to eat, a place to stay, mental healthcare and economic security.