When the first case of COVID-19 was reported, no one knew how far it would spread or how dramatically it would impact our lives. No one knew the damage it would do to our health, our finances, our mental wellbeing. As I write this the impact of this pandemic has been felt across borders, affecting everyone regardless of age, sex, religion or even social status. What we used to see as a normal routine became a luxury as our movement was restricted by lockdowns and self-isolations. Businesses shut down, companies started requiring employees to work from home. Life was not the same again, and it has not been the same to date. People lost their loved ones, families were broken and disconnect intensified among families, friends and colleagues.
We all know the cost of living in America demands that you have to work hard, and no one is exempted from this. Being an immigrant doesn’t make the situation any easier, but America is great and there are so many opportunities to explore. After completing my studies, I was able to secure a job and got shared accommodation with a roommate just to make bills a bit more manageable. Everything was normal and moving on well until COVID-19 hit the world. At first the coronavirus was just a virus in China; now it’s a catastrophe that I believe most of us have a story to share about. Many businesses and workplaces got so affected and suffered financially from the economic setback. They ended up closing and laying off some of their employees: some temporarily until they were able to stabilize again, others permanently.
My workplace was not spared. Months after the virus got to America, we woke up to news that certain positions in the company I worked for would be laid off temporarily. I thought I was lucky, that this would only last a few weeks, but there was no timeframe on the letter indicating when we would head back to work. It was still a tricky situation. Months passed and I grew more frustrated as I searched for a new job. Companies were not hiring new employees; in fact, they were planning for reductions. This was the story almost everywhere. Falling behind on rent and having used up all my savings, I was facing imminent eviction with nowhere to go. Weeks later, I was homeless and had to hit the streets.
That is where I met Tyler. We became friends and since he had been on the streets for a while he showed me how to survive out there. It was not easy but I had to adapt.
Luckily, one day I was called by my previous employer and I was called back to work. I was able to stabilize again quickly because I had found a part-time job as well. Even though I am housed now, I use some of my income to help homeless people, including Tyler. I visit them as much as I can, and we share a meal so at least I can see a smile on them. I wish I could help more people but I am restrained financially. If anyone is capable of providing assistance, please go ahead. These great humans need you, they need me, they need us all.
Please donate by Venmo to @maxwell-njeru to support this homeless immigrant community!