This fire in Peter Green hall, the only Dalhousie dormitory for students with children is so sad and sob-making. The princess goes to daycare in Peter Green hall, and yesterday she told us solemnly that one of her friends has lost everything in the fire. And we got a letter from her school- the families affected all had their children at that school, and they are collecting money and anything else for them. They can’t go back to their residences for months now.
Thankfully, no one got hurt. However, when you’re a student with children, and mostly likely an immigrant or on a student visa losing all your meagre stuff, which you have amassed painfully, one by one, out of garage sales and Walmart sales is a bad blow. I know. Everytime we have to spend 100 dollars on someething for the house, we discuss and discuss. Right now, our latest purchase has been from Walmart again- a tiny little TV and DVD player, to keep the eager paws of the princess and the golden boy off the laptop so we can work in peace. They cost 114 dolllars. The laptop cost over 700 dollars. We discussed and discussed to see if we wanted to spend an extra 80 dollars to get a TV with a larger screen and then we decided we didn’t. We discussed and discussed to see if we wanted cable TV, adding another monthly 22 dollar bill to our monthly bills, and we decided we wouldn’t. Some students don’t get cellphones for fear of mounting bills. Every bill is a nightmare, every purchase the result of debate, deliberation and soul-searching. Imagine losing all those careful careful purchaes in a fire and having to go through th process of gathering stuff all over again.
So, although I never do private charity, the case of the Peter Green Hall students losing all their belongings really hurt me. Imagine living in a cold northern city, miles and miles and miles from home and your mommy and daddy, with no income, with a couple of money-devouring children prancing around you, with a harsh study schedule (one of the students had a presentation on the morning of the might the fire broke out, and was so tired after staying up all night preparing for the presentation that he didn’t get up when he heard the alarm bell. I would have done the same) and then losing everything. Say what you like about extended family and what a pain parents can be, there is no doubt that in times like these, they are (or should be) the main source for getting life back on tracks. Community, one Canadian lady told me some weeks ago. Immigrants should try to build up a community network to replace the extended family network they have lost. Not me, I thought, I’m glad to be rid of the extended family network, and I certainly don’t want another bunch of people around me, asking questions and offering advice about how to manage my meals, my husband, my children, my life. Now I’m beginning to think perhaps she had a point.