I was walking by the Salvation Army Hostel on Monday and saw a young woman looking at a map printed out from a computer. “Can you help me?” she asked. “I’m not a city girl. I feel like a lost tourist.”
She wanted to find the Salvation Army Thrift Shop in St. Boniface. I told her she could walk with me and once we got to my street I’d show her the direction to go. I told her I volunteered at a Mennonite Thrift Shop.
“I’m a Mennonite,” she said. She told me her name. Her first name was Biblical and her surname definitely Mennonite. “Where are you from?” I asked. She named my hometown and as we talked she told me about the schools there she had attended. I had attended all three myself and taught at one of them. When I asked about her parents she described her father with an expletive and said she never wanted to see him again. Her Mom had left her Dad and moved to a distant Manitoba town.
I asked her what she was going to buy at the Thrift Shop. “Clothes,” she said. “I just got out of prison and all I have are the clothes on my back.” I asked how she’d landed up in jail. “I assaulted someone,” she told me and then quickly added, “you don’t have to worry, I am not a violent person. I was attacked and just defended myself.”
We kept talking till we reached my street. I found out she’d been kicked out of high school, had no one in the city she knew, and had no money. There was a limited amount of time she could stay at the Salvation Army. “I’ll have to find a way to make Winnipeg my home,” she said.
When we reached my street I pointed her in the direction of St. Boniface, gave her some money to buy clothes, wished her well and waved good-bye. I can’t stop thinking about her. I know there is probably lots more to her story than she told me. But………what will happen to her? What chance does she have?