By Biba Pop
In the midst of the U.S government shutdown in 2013, I started a new job, ironically at WIC here in California. WIC stands for Women Infant Children and it is a government program that helps low-income women and children have access to nutritious food. I had already heard of a looming shutdown on the Senator Bernie Sanders’ webpage. Not surprisingly, the WIC office began receiving numerous calls asking if we were open.
In all honesty, the check amounts that these people receive (* at the time) is a pittance, yet for them it makes all the difference. People often assume that the types of people who make uses of services such as WIC are ignorant, but that’s not true. While some may question the choices they’ve made, such as the choice to have children when it’s not exactly economically viable, it is not a reflection of who they are as people. As I shadowed the WIC assistant, all the participants were very well aware of the political situation.
The WIC worker I shadowed today pointed out to me a poignant observation – the children running around the WIC office are not just running around because, well, they’re children. They’re also running around as they often live in tight, cramped apartments – in our tiny WIC office, they have access to a precious commodity, and that is space. Yes there are parks in this area. But a lot of these parks are filthy-from the hypodermic needles, to the inconsiderate people that don’t clean up after their dog. So options to run & play freely are limited.
This is in no way to disregard the suffering others go through in other parts of the world. Compared to many others, we in the U.S have it so much better. One could say the WIC participants in California are lucky compared to those in say, Utah. Still it’s all relative. It is unbelievable to me that a handful of people in Congress could ever consider shutting down a program such as this. At the time of this writing, WIC was only releasing food vouchers for the month of October (*2013).
We the People need to take our power back from them, yet I don’t know what it’s going to take for people to finally say they’ve had enough and take our government officials to task for the way they are carelessly playing with people’s lives. Like so many people, I’ve been looking for decent full-time work for the last 3 years. Naturally I’m concerned about my job, especially since this a wonderful opportunity for me. Like many other people in this country, I have a lot of student debt. As a public service job, it may me help qualify for Public Service student loan forgiveness.
While I’m concerned obviously about my own welfare, I’m also concerned for the future of the WIC participants. I will end this article for Soul Brasil with this experience: a week before I started my job, I had done some hatha yoga in the morning. After I finished my short 15 minute routine, I had a sense of peace. I recalled Paramahansa Yogananda’s admonishment to never trust the ways of man, but to trust in the Divine for all source of abundance and well-being. So at the risk of sounding like a new age twit, I kind of basked in this feeling. Otherwise, my 1st week on the job is off to a good, if not uncertain, start.
* Due to the nature of the article, the author is choosing to remain anonymous. She is a writer based in Oakland, California. Follow on Twitter: @bibapoponline.