Imaginez que vous devez envoyer vos enfants à l’école en veste kangourou et chaussures de tennis, par un temps glacial, car vous n’avez pas les moyens d’acheter des vêtements d’hiver. Ou encore que vous avez les mains rougies, enflées et engourdies par le froid car vous êtes sans abri et n’avez pas de gants. Malheureusement, même dans un pays aussi prospère que le Canada, la pauvreté est pour un grand nombre de personnes une triste réalité.
Lorsque la température plonge, l’Armée du Salut fait son possible pour s’assurer que les sans-abri restent au chaud. Elle leur offre des services d’hébergement, des sacs de couchage, des manteaux, des bottes, des chaussettes et des gants.
« Les froids intenses constituent un véritable problème pour les personnes qui vivent de revenus fixes (on ne voit pas toujours la pauvreté cachée) ou dans la rue, explique Perron Goodyear, directeur national des services d’urgence de l’Armée du Salut. À maintes reprises, dans le cadre du ministère de la rue, j’ai vu des gens souffrir d’engelures car ils n’avaient pas les moyens d’acheter des mitaines ou une tuque. »
À Ottawa, le véhicule d’urgence de l’Armée du Salut parcourt les rues, sept jours sur sept, de 11 h à 3 h du matin, et 24 heures sur 24 lorsque survient une vague de froid intense.
« Nous apercevons les sans-abri qui essaient de rester au chaud sous les ponts, dans l’entrée des banques ou sur les bouches de ventilation, déclare Kristen MacDonald, coordonnatrice du programme d’intervention directe au Centre Booth de l’Armée du Salut. Nous les amenons au refuge et leur procurons des vêtements d’hiver. »
Kristen MacDonald est reconnaissante qu’un groupe communautaire local distribue des trousses de survie hivernale par l’entremise de l’Armée du Salut. « Même une paire de chaussettes peut faire une grande différence », explique Kristen.
« Un jour, j’ai vu un homme d’âge mur, les mains nues et grelottant, qui attendait l’autobus, dit Perron. Il avait les mains rougies par le froid. Je lui ai donné des mitaines. Il ne pouvait pas croire que c’était gratuit. Il était tellement reconnaissant que des larmes coulaient sur ses joues. C’est dans ces moments que nous ne devons pas oublier les laissés-pour-compte―ceux qui ont un toit sur la tête mais qui sont privés des biens nécessaires. »
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