Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Winnipeg Urban Plunge

The urban plunge was an exhilarating, eye-opening experience for site 2 Outtatowners.  I speak for myself, and perhaps many of us, when I say that we have grown up and exist in a bubble where we are comfortable, warm, feel safe, and have needs and desires that are continuously met.  We live in a bubble where we lock our door when driving through the North End of Winnipeg and where issues of prostitution and homelessness become classified as newspaper stories and statistics instead of real people with a name and a story.  Throughout urban plunge, many bubbles popped.  We became exposed to the "why" behind issues like high rates of aboriginal suicide, prostitution, and why people might live without a home.

Megan, Jessica & Dan learning about poverty from Harvey at the Vineyard

On the first day we participated in a learning tour. We were placed in groups of three and given clues that sent us all around urban Winnipeg. We started off at Siloam, a shelter that supplies food, clothes, medical care, job assistance, art programs, a gym, and a place to sleep to those in need.  Here we experimented with charity and were challenged to take the shirt of our back (literally, we traded one of our shirts, jackets, sweaters, etcetera and traded it in for one donated to Siloam). As we walked the streets of Winnipeg we were introduced to various ministries and learned lots about issues surrounding immigration, gangs, homelessness and prostitution.  We were encouraged to take time to talk to people we encountered on the street and to take someone out for coffee. 

 On the second and third days we were given the opportunity to connect with a specific ministry for a whole day. The first day my group helped out at the clothing drop at Siloam. We opened bags upon bags of donated clothes, which we subsequently folded, hung and positioned in their proper places. 

Megan & Emily at the Multi-Cultural Family centre
Emily, Matt & Tobi working at House Blend laying sod
The second day, we were paired up with House Blend ministries. We helped out by landscaping throughout the day, however we learned so much about the importance of community. The house that we worked at is owned by House Blend ministries, and it aims to evangelize through community. They have gardens where all the neighbours share the vegetables and the work load that goes into it. The students living at House Blend ministries pretty much open their arms up to the community. While we were there, a random young man walking down the street asked us what we were doing, and who was in charge of us. We directed him to the pastor doing yard work with us and they sat and had a lengthy conversation about Christianity. He ended up leaving with a bible, which was really cool stuff! 

The Urban plunge was unreal, an epic adventure. It was a fantastic learning experience for us Outtatowners and has forever changed our perspective of inner city issues!

Written by: Alisha Attema

Video by: Carol McNaughton

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