Child poverty: Jason (10) knows that sometimes my mom stole something

Child poverty is becoming increasingly visible due to rising energy and food prices and the consequences of the Corona crisis. Helmond municipality wants to do something about it, for example by offering free breakfast at the school. Jason is 10 years old and lives in poverty. Jason and his mother regularly visit BeBizzy, a charitable organization in Helmond. There, people can catch their breath in the cozy living room and choose something in the store. In this calm we talk to them. Jason: “If there’s more money, I get goosebumps.”

Angeska, Jason’s mother, was kicked away by her mother at the age of eight for stealing food. She tied a backpack to her stomach. She picked up her little buggy, “because then I can take more with me” and headed to the farmers in the area. “Whatever the farmer had, I loaded up my bag. I was so afraid the farmer would find out. My mother thought other things were more important than us having to eat and drink.”

“I didn’t want to be poor anymore, but it didn’t work.”

Angeska was traumatized by her childhood. “Most girls want to be a princess or a lawyer. I don’t want to be poor anymore, but I couldn’t.”

Angieska is mom. You will hardly be able to read this article. She lives on benefits and has four children. A fifth child lives with her, but she does not have it. “This is my extra baby,” she laughs.

Everything went well with Angieska until one of her children became seriously ill. Medical costs, hospital transportation and overnight stays turned out to be prohibitive for the family. Poverty found its way into the next generation.

10-year-old Angeska and Jason talk openly about their situation. “We don’t have time for shame, we live,” Angeska says. Child poverty often remains a hidden problem. “A lot of kids don’t know they live in poverty, and often think it’s normal,” says BeBizzy’s Diane Bruno. “Parents try to keep it a secret.”

But Jason is not from yesterday and knows exactly what’s going on.

Jason: “I wanted a water pistol from the monkey shop.”
Angiska: “We call it the monkey shop, because there’s a monkey up front. I can’t read or write very well. I think it’s Intertoys.”
Jason: “My mom said no, my mom always said no.”
Angiska: “I can’t get myself out of poverty, because I can’t do much. I used to take care of my mother at home. “
Jason: “I don’t know how I feel if I don’t get something, it’s bad.”

Angeska should get 120 euros a week. “So I have to really do everything I can and because of the medical costs for one of the children, this is difficult.” Angeska often does not cover her expenses. When the week is over, her fridge is empty.

Angiska: “We call it the remaining days.”
Jason: “We always have something to eat, you know.”
Angiska: “I go to the boxes in the back of the supermarket, if you know what I mean.”
Jason: “Huh?”
Angiska: “It’s still good and then I put it in a bag, sorry.”
Jason: “I didn’t know that at all!”
Anguska, crying with trembling hands: “I think I confessed something by chance.”
Jason: “It’s not bad at all, Mom.”
Angiska: “Did you know I got your mountain bike from there too?”
Jason: “Really?”
Angiska: “It was like new and it was simply in a container. Then I opened my legs, and I had to get it.”

Sometimes there is more money. Anjeska gets something from others and sells it. “They gave me meat and I prepared and sold it again. Then I had more money and could buy a birthday present so Jason could go to a party. We do weird things to make money.”

“I had nothing left. I was so scared.”

For example, Anjeska had to steal again. The children remained at home with instructions to call their uncle if she did not return from the grocery store. “I had absolutely nothing left. I didn’t have a babysitter either. I was so scared. What if I get arrested? Who’s going to take care of my kids?” Jason knows what happened when Angieska came back with full bags. “We had a lot of food at that time.”

Eating is already difficult, and cold clothes even more difficult. It caused Jason a lot of trouble. He was often bullied. He is now attending another school. He is the best out there and has many friends.

Jason: “Once upon a time I wore tights with the stars. This is for bisexuals.”
Angiska: “It bothers him, you know. That topic is still heavy.”
Jason: “I was beaten up by 5 guys.”
Anguska: “He’s still afraid of someone.”
Jason: “They mistook me too. Because I wear different clothes and a very old phone. The shirt I’m wearing now is from Nike, so that’s fine. But the pants I’m wearing now aren’t that good.”

Jason doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up, but the police academy seems right for him.

Angiska: “Jason, I can’t stand it. That’s what worries me, isn’t it? Teaching my kids. Can they have that? Have you ever seen how expensive books are? My God.”

Anjeska doesn’t have time to talk anymore. Her sick son needs his medicine. “That’s very accurate, you know.” Jason can quickly find something in the BeBizzy store. Moments later, he walked out of the store beaming with a cuddly monkey toy.

Jason and Anjeska’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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