A dog is outside your home. It is cold and the animal is hungry. Would you feed it? I would like to think that the answer is yes. So, why when a human being is in the same situation, do we refuse to feed and shelter him/her in Kelowna?
Jane Doe exemplifies suffering that is occurring here, in a wealthy community that really does not care about the needy, but over-values ballet.
She came to Kelowna from a small town close to the Okanagan. She hoped to put her life together again and be a productive member of our society after she experienced difficult times.
Instead, she found out she could not access basic necessities such as food or shelter on a cold night.
She couldn't afford bread; however, she was refused by a food bank clerk, simply because she was considered to be a "transient."
After looking it up, I learned that a person is considered "transient" if he or she cannot prove residency, in this case, in Kelowna.
So to summarize: a person who is starving, lives in the streets, and cannot even afford a meal is refused by the food bank because he or she has no money to rent a room.
One would think if you can afford to buy or rent a place or have friends to stay with, perhaps you shouldn't be the first in line when asking for free food.
So who qualifies for basic help in Kelowna?
If a person like Jane Doe, who should be the primary purpose of any social program, is turned down, who is benefitting from them?
Let's say it is true Jane is passing through Kelowna. What kind of organization, especially one called a food bank, which receives donations from you and me to feed the poor, would deny food to a hungry person, no matter where that person is coming from or going to?
Long gone are the days being a human being was enough to be helped. We feed criminals in jail and provide welfare money to questionable "refugees" from other countries.
Jane is one of us, a citizen of our nation, doing no harm or illegal actions, and she gets the cold shoulder?
A couple of weeks ago, Kelowna hosted a Global Citizen event. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) were featured. They send thousands of dollars out of Canada in aid, dollars which are often unrequested, lost to corruption or spent poorly; meanwhile, Jane goes hungry and sleeps on our streets. Our hypocrisy is shocking.
If we are serious about spreading love, care and compassion, we will not look down on or ignore our own citizens. Compassion and care should start at home. Canadians like to think they are kind and caring, and they used to live up to this ideal.
Legends tell that, in the past, small Canadian communities used to leave their cabin doors open when they were away so that tired, cold and hungry travellers could receive respite.
History is full of examples of travellers being helped and fed by strangers during their voyages. Small-town residents were even reputed to have banded together to help new town members build their houses. Obviously, in Kelowna, we talk the talk but do not walk the walk.
Going back to the original question: would you feed the poor animal? The only reason a cold-hearted person would refuse to feed the dog is to make it leave and become somebody else's problem. God forbid it sticks around.
The true story of Jane Doe should alarm our community. NGOs and other organizations want to help people overseas and brag about it. They preach that they love Canada, but prove otherwise by ignoring local citizens of their own country.
Paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, "How can we love our country and not love our countrymen?"
Salomon Rayek is a Kelowna resident and former executive editor of the Jewish Tribune. Email: