Person First Project is a photo blog that seeks to give those currently or formerly experiencing homelessness in D.C. the chance to share their stories. In doing this, we hope to reduce the barriers that separate people in D.C. and spark a dialogue. The Person First Project aims to connect us – and to make us all feel a bit more human.
Author’s Note: Sareana and her mother are still in transition.
“It’s stressful to be in transition. At first it was, do we have a place to stay? Trying to figure out where we’re going to go, how it’s going to work, what do we need, what needs to get put away… it’s really living off the bare minimum. Do I know if I’m eating lunch today? How am I going to get around? Gas is expensive, the metro is expensive. There are a lot of things you don’t know, and you don’t know what tomorrow is looking like. For me it was about making the most of what I had at the time and trying to do the best I could.
I think when we were packing it still hadn’t hit me that we were going to leave our place and pretty much go to the car or with my friend. I think it hit me when we cleared out the place and we walked out. It was like well, we’re never coming back here again. We’ve had that place since forever, since I was young. It’s always been there. And it was something that’s been permanent and then all of the sudden we’re not there anymore. It was that really quick transition, I don’t know, I was expecting it right away – of course I was being told, but going from being told to actually seeing it happen is completely different.
There’s child support that comes in and that’s what we used for food. So it’s $500 a month – and that’s what we lived off of. I think we also got lucky when we were staying with other people, they were like ‘eat what you want’… they were very, very nice about it. We moved in with someone who I met through my advocacy work, who has a wife and a kid and a dog and they’re such a cute family, actually. We stayed with them for about a month. We agreed on a certain time that we’d be staying there and we obviously didn’t want to impose. They were having family coming over, and we hadn’t really planned ahead, so we were in the car for like a week.
Yeah, it’s not bad. Honestly, everyone’s like, ‘Oh my god, you stayed in a car!’ – We were lucky! We stayed in a car when it was warm outside, we had some nonperishable food that was left over – it wasn’t bad at all. It’s a Honda CRV so pretty big. It was not the most comfortable thing, I will tell you I probably woke up as soon as the sun rose, but it’s not bad. So the first night we parked in our storage unit and then we discovered there are cameras. So that wasn’t very smart. And then we parked on Beach Drive. It’s by Beach and Strathmore at that intersection. We would go there after-hours.”
– Sareana Kimia, age 16
At 16 years old, Sareana Kimia is now a youth advocate and local activist with her own non-profit, Youth for National Change. Please visit the Person First Project to read her whole story. If you feel motivated to help, she has created a GoFundMe page to support her education and her life. http://www.gofundme.com/