One of the greatest tragedies of our time is homelessness. In an age of prosperity and plenty, tens of thousands of people have become victims of homelessness.
Tim J Huff has been called by Andrew Stawicki of the "Toronto Star" "as not just another outreach worker, but a tireless activist for the cause of the homeless." Tim is a writer, illustrator and veteran street worker. He has seen first-hand the terrible plight of men, women, children- even entire families, living on the streets of our urban centres. He has listened quietly to their stories, watched them cry beneath the overpasses where they sleep, brought them coffee and sandwiches. He has been spit on and called names while sitting with them as they panhandle from the sidewalk.
But when his own daughter, at age 8, fixed him with her gaze one day as they strolled below the Gardiner Expressway and demanded to know why there was a mattress on the ground, he struggled for words to explain that someone slept there and why. After 19 years of working with these poor misunderstood souls, Tim has written and illustrated a book to help adults talk to children about the homeless.
Tim, who works for Youth Unlimited, a faith-based charity aimed at helping teens and young adults, has come up with something he hopes will help other parents facing the same dilemma.
He both wrote and and illustrated this picture book that lays the groundwork for parents and teachers to start talking about homelessness with children. The book is called The Cardboard Shack Beneath the Bridge. Written in 16 stanzas, each accompanied by a colourful drawing, it gently raises questions in language a preschooler can understand and leaves it to theadult to decide where to take the discussion.
As Tim says it so well," I wanted to start with everybody just seeing each other as human beings. Everyone has their own story, whether we know what it is or not." He'd be happy if that's something children could take from this book.
"The Cardboard Shack" is an invitation to learn about real people with real problems. And 'we' are the real solution"