“I cry myself to sleep worrying about what I am going to feed my kids.”
– Anna, a mum in crisis in country Victoria
She never thought it could happen to her.
Anna, a mother to Eva, 6, and Olivia, 8, lives in a small country town in north east Victoria. How quickly she lost everything may shock and surprise you.
Anna’s husband was domineering. Her five-year marriage was in trouble. But she was stunned when he ended it abruptly, while she was with her parents, to mourn her brother’s sudden death.
When Anna and her daughters returned home, her estranged husband had changed the locks on their house. He could, as he controlled all the money and Anna’s name wasn’t on the mortgage.
In a single day, Anna had no home, no possessions and no food. Anna and her little girls were forced to sleep in her car at a truck stop on the Hume Highway.
“I was scared and my girls were scared,” says Anna. “The nights were cold and the car was cramped. To this day, I’ve never told anyone – it makes me sad and ashamed to think about it.”
After being homeless, Anna was so grateful when she was finally offered government housing – the only problem was that the house was one hour away from her hometown, family and friends.
Anna didn’t know she was also moving to one of the most disadvantaged towns in Victoria with very few job opportunities.
In her new hometown, Anna tried but could barely get any work. After paying her bills, divorce costs, and living expenses, she only had a few dollars a day left to feed her family.
She is a proud and resourceful woman and didn’t want to ask for help. Thankfully, she has just enough room to grow some vegetables and has a few chickens for eggs. If she hears about meat and grocery specials in neighbouring towns, she jumps on a train to go there and stock up on specials.
But there have been many nights she has cried quietly in bed. She is always worried sick they won’t have enough to eat tomorrow.
Anna wondered how things had got so bad. Before her unhappy, controlling marriage, she’d run a successful cleaning business and was proud of the home she’d made for her family. She never thought this could happen to her.
“I want to survive and not cry myself to sleep at night. And in time, I want to be able to find work, pay my bills and have my own home. Without enough money for food, it feels impossible.” says Anna.
On school days, Anna drops her daughters off at the school gate and runs quickly back to her car, avoiding eye contact with the other mothers, who often go for coffee together.
She can’t afford a loaf of bread for her children’s sandwiches, let alone $4 for a latte.
“I get so sad when I look at the other mums happy and laughing,” she says. “That used to be me! I feel as though I am living a nightmare.
“Even fruit is a luxury now. I can’t believe I used to buy a couple of bags of apples. I can’t do that now. I look for the specials and buy one piece of fruit for my daughters to eat each day. Sometimes I go without dinner so that they can eat.”
Anna doesn’t want to ask for help. But she has no choice, she loves her daughters so much and just wants them to be fed.
“I’ve never been one to put my hand out because I always think there are people worse off than me,” she says. “Though at this point, I’ve had to swallow my pride and I need help with food. But I won’t let this take my dignity.”
We hope you agree it is unacceptable to let any mum and her children live like this. But on any given night in Victoria there are thousands who are without food, just like Anna and her children.
Please help us expand our reach into more country towns in Victoria and give this resilient, capable mum and her little girls enough food to eat. Your gift today will fill hungry stomachs and rebuild lives. We will be so grateful if you decide to help, your generous donation can provide food to a family battling hardship – one just like Anna’s.
*While Anna’s story is true, her name and image has been changed to protect her family’s privacy. Thank you for understanding.