If you were Lynette, would you still smile?
I came across this video of a senior lady Ms. Lynette Haines who is poverty-stricken and lives on just a small pension. She was a hard-working person her whole life and took care of herself, doing the best she could and not burdening others but instead supporting herself. Due to unforeseen circumstances (global recession) however, she ended up with very little money, without a real home, and very little help and the government is set up in a way she does not get much help either. She is older and she has needs, which of course includes medical needs too. She has no home except the little caravan she is staying in. This lady does not know what her future is like. She has no one to lean on, and her relatives and her son do not have space for her. She is effectively alone at 69. Quite a frightening prospect.
Yet, her indomitable spirit is so strong. She is polite and gracious, she smiles, she is candid, she is easy-going and open, and a total delight to be around. She is a total delight to listen to. She has so little and enjoys the little she has without bitterness. Talking to her, you would think nothing is wrong. She has so much worries; even if she can get a job, how long can she work for? Being older and alone, she has an uncertain future and yet, she has such a powerful aura of graciousness, good attitude, satisfaction and manners, and she is totally focused on the other person she is talking to. There is so much to learn from such an elder who shows us an example of wisdom and maturity. It is heart-wrenching to know she has only the radio to keep her company when she wakes up worried and alone at night.
So many of us have so much and yet, we are not satisfied. We want more. We are driven to falsely think that more is better, when it actually makes us suffer more. This lovely lady has gained wisdom with her age and she radiates maturity, tolerance, acceptance, satisfaction and understanding. She does not feel sorry for herself and does not want you to give her free things. She does not know what she is going to do yet to solve her situation, yet she still can focus outward and be grateful for what she has. What little she has is so much to her because she has wisdom and is mature. She knows material things are not the answer. But still, she is getting older and what happens if she has a serious medical issue? She can barely keep warm every night as it is.
Not all older people act or behave in a mature manner with wisdom and so dignified in the face of poverty, I am sorry to say. However, this lady has so little and yet behaves in a way as if she has so much. She is a grateful person. A beautiful lesson to learn from her. A beautiful sort of wisdom we can gain from observing her. I am sorry we have to learn from her because of her dire situation. I am sorry about that. I do not mean disrespect to her by talking about her. I was so touched and moved and I had to share this. Please watch this very short video which I have placed here for educational purposes and be inspired. Please watch the 9-minute video and be blessed to listen to Ms. Lynette Haines .
I hope as a result of this interview, Ms. Lynette Haines will get the help she deserves and live in dignity with a home, care, funds, medication and some security. I pray for her. I thank her for being her.
This 9-minute video is a must watch! Watch this wonderful older lady and be inspired by her example.
TRANSCRIPT Pensioner in poverty: Life in a caravan Newsreader: Poverty has become a major issue this election, the homelessness, the working poor, children going to school without any lunch and not having eaten breakfast. We have looked at all of those things on Checkpoint. Tonight we are going to look at pensioners living in poverty. With rents rising, as a single person can you live off the pension? Lynette Haines at Mount Maunganui says unless you live in a caravan, you can’t. Our reporter Zach Fleming and our cameraman Brad White paid her a visit. Lyn: We are sitting in my little caravan, 3.3 meters in length. Zach: For perspective, that barely enough for an average man to lie down arms stretched out overhead. Standing inside, I am thinking small, cramped and claustrophobic even. But not Lyn. Here’s how she described it. Lyn: She’s kind of 70s style inside, I guess you call the colours in here gold and green and a deep blue to grey. Zach: She sees it as comfortable except when it’s cold which is actually every night. Lyn: But I can fill a hot water bottle, got an electric jug which I can use in here. Fill the hot water bottle and I’ve got plenty of blankets and bedding, and warm things to wear. Zach: Lyn is 69 years old, a job-seeker, living in a caravan at a campground in the Bay of Plenty. She epitomizes the struggle of the hard-working but non-home-owning pensioner. Yet she is the ‘glass overflowing’ kind of positive. Lyn: And my dad taught me resilience. To “get up and bounce back and roll with the punches,” he used to say when things didn’t go right. You’ve got to roll with the punches, Lyn. Zach: So how did she get here? She was working in a pharmacy when the global financial crisis hit in 2008. Lyn: I did love my job. Zach: Made redundant, the then-60 year old went on a job hunt. The number of applications? Lyn: Hundreds. Zach: But she couldn’t find a job which she puts down to her age. Lyn: There was no chance… I think I got to one interview in all of the hundreds of jobs that I applied for. Zach: Then, to make matters worse, her landlord asked her to leave because his daughter needed a place to live. Lyn: My living situation had just gone slip, slip, back, back, back, back all the time. Zach: Before and during all of this, Lyn was trying to get a place of her own, but… Lyn: With the global financial crisis and my job loss, the bank couldn’t give me a mortgage loan, so that went down the gurgler. So I kept hopeful and that’s why I kept applying for jobs. Zach: But hope doesn’t pay the bills and that’s Lyn’s problem. The cheapest one-bedroom unit in Tauranga that are suitable for long-term stays, as in not just an uninsulated converted garage, go for around NZD300 a week. The pension is NZD390 per week. Lyn: Okay, I could go out tomorrow and rent a little place and hand all my rent, all my income, my pension income over to the landlord, but that means I’ve got nothing left for dental care, healthcare, keeping tyres on the car, keeping the warrant and the registration going, putting food on the table. All of those things, I just couldn’t have them. Zach: The campground has communal bathrooms and kitchen that costs Lyn NZD154 a week. She was there during Cyclones Cook and Debbie earlier this year. She had to take refuge in a local library. Lyn: It’s deafening. I have to lock up and get in my car and go. Zach: We can’t tell you the name of the campground because it’s actually illegal for Lyn to be there. The Camping Grounds Regulations Act says nobody can stay in a campground longer than 50 days. But staying there means Lyn can afford the essentials. Lyn: Just recently, I had two single dental visits for two single fillings and they were NZD170 each. Zach: And what would have happened if she was in a rental unit? Lyn: I would have to go to the A&E and beg for the dentist to come and fix my tooth cause I’d be in agony. Zach: Lyn told me as far as she sees it, her choices are live in the caravan or go into debt. I asked her what she does for fun. Lyn: Ah, in terms of? Zach: She was confused, what did I mean by fun? I asked again. Lyn: Going walking on the beach, just across the road so that’s not too far away. Hop on the bus and get a bus ride. Thanks to Winston Peters, I’ve got a gold bus card which I can use locally. So I can go and walk around the city and enjoy the vista, and some lovely places down on the Strand and round the city to walk. And beautiful parks, we’ve got beautiful parks here in Tauranga. I can go down to the mount and enjoy Pilot Bay. Zach: You’ll notice none of these things cost money. Lyn: And go to the library which is free to me and yeah, and contact friends and maybe meet for a cup of tea, and family when I get to see them when they’re busy. Zach: What about a movie, dining out? Lyn: Anything that costs more than, say, ten dollars, I’ve got to think twice. Restaurant meals are out for me. I can’t ever get to a restaurant where I can go and sit down and be waited on. Um, that is a ‘no’ for me. Umm, and other little treats like an ice-cream in a cone is nice. And basically, that’s really all I do. Zach: Shopping is either the Two Dollar Shop or the second-hand odd shops. Lyn: So my meals consist of sausages and boiled vegetables or… Zach: She gave us a tour of her caravan. Lyn: Groceries in here, packets and jars and… Zach: The foods, mostly home-brand or tinned. She has a small TV with a makeshift aerial that can only get Channel 1 and 2. There are no signs of extravagance or irresponsibility. No computer, no Internet. Lyn: Unfortunately, when you’ve got to cut your cost to fit your pocket, some things have to go. Zach: And that’s just how it is, she told me. Lyn: Winter’s very hard when you’re cooped up in a little space, very hard. And it can be a wee bit depressing, you get a wee bit depressed, and even though I have a positive attitude, there’s times when I think, “Why me, why is this happening to me now? Is it ever going to change?” and the whole time I’m planning well, what can I actually do to get out of it? That’s the other thing. I’ve sat and made notes sometimes about what can I do. Zach: Lyn thinks there are two ways: get a job, which she has yet been unable to do or Housing New Zealand. She is on the waiting list for a state house in the Bay of Plenty area, to be near her grandkids. Lyn: At my age, going to a city where you don’t know anyone and having to set yourself up and start out all over again, it’s pretty much a ‘no’. Zach: The Ministry for Social Development’s Regional Commissioner Mike Bryant says Lyn has been on the Housing New Zealand waitlist for just over a year, and she is considered a high priority. But because she occasionally house-sits for friends or acquaintances, it changes her entitlement to Accommodation Supplement. Mr. Bryant says MSD has 123 transitional housing places in the Bay of Plenty and is currently looking for an additional 290 social housing places, including 155 one-bedrooms. Mr. Bryant says MSD would look at a discretionary bond and helping Lyn with rent in advance if she wanted to move into a rental unit. Otherwise, widening her search area would help as, quote, “one-bedroom properties in Tauranga are hard to find.” I asked Lyn if she ever lies awake at night unable to sleep. Lyn: Yes, I do. Sometimes I wake up in the night and I worry and I get up and I turn the light on and I turn the radio on. I’ll listen to a lot of Radio New Zealand during the night. I listen to Bryan and Jesse and yeah, that’s become my company. Your radio station has become my company in the night when I worry. I won’t ring Helpline because I am not the only one. Stephanie Clare: We hear cases like this all the time. There isn’t enough money for older people to pay rent, travel, transport, eat and look after themselves. Zach: Stephanie Clare, Chief Executive of Age Concern, says Lyn is an example of a worsening problem as home ownership levels fall. Stephanie Clare: Once upon a time, that amount of money on retirement was aimed just to supplement whatever money that, you know, the living standards of an older person, but in today’s world, it’s actually paying for everything so it doesn’t actually keep up with inflation and the needs of an older person. Tom O’Connor: And we have then single people in their retirement years on National Superannuation who are in, by any measure, living in poverty. Zach: I asked Tom O’Connor, President of Grey Power, what should Lyn do? Tom O’Connor: Sadly, there is not a lot. She needs to go to HNZC… Zach: She is on the Housing New Zealand waitlist at the moment. Tom O’Connor: Yeah, you can’t live on the waitlist. We have people in dire states in this country and that’s an indictment on a succession of governments of the world to happen. Zach: For Lyn, she is holding out hope of a state house or a job, maybe both, and that she doesn’t get booted out of the campground for breaking the rules. Lyn: We live in uncertainty and that’s really a very difficult place to be, like a rock and a hard place. Zach: For Checkpoint, Zach Fleming. The owners of the campground that Lyn is living inside, they turn away at least one person a day in a similar situation, asking to park their caravan permanently. And if you’re wondering why Lyne isn’t living with her son, he’s also renting and doesn’t have room for Lyn or her caravan.
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