It is neither a mystery nor a tale, it is reality. Life stories composed of oppressive systems that are supposed to “alivianar” (or help) society, but are created as unsolvable labyrinths with obstacles at every corner. It is impossible to narrow down my experience at Taller de Jose to one simple story, when the most important message comes from the repetition of the stories of distress. The continuous faults in the system exemplify the need for advocacy and accompaniment. As a Case Manager, I was consistently faced with the obstacles that stop those who most need help to reach the necessary resources.
In one case, perhaps it was a 97 year-old client in need of a change from reduced transportation fare to ride free program (which they easily qualified for), a process that proves to be a lot more complicated than it sounds. Possibly in another case, there is a mother who is getting evicted after unjustly being fired from her long-time job and has nowhere to go with her son, who is in a wheelchair. There might be a man who was punched on the L and was left unconscious and now has facial fractures that make it harder to find work. Perhaps there is a woman who simply has no way of getting from her shelter to her therapy session because she only speaks French and is new to public transit. Possibly there is an elderly couple that was finally able to buy their own home but is faced with a high property tax bill because they are not receiving the exemptions they have the right to receive. These are the maybes, possibilities and perhaps that are not just pondered on the average day, this is the reality. The social political structure enables such faults that truly become nightmares to the average person.
In the complex socio political structure, one element seems to be afloat and forgotten: humanity. These clients have come to us because the system was unable to help them. Their strength and their fear are a valid combination. Taller de Jose encompasses the humanity that seems lost within several social policies in place. It is ideal for Taller to be a welcoming environment for all, because more times than not our clients have already faced the cold realities of some applied policies. The availability of accompaniment and advocacy fills a forgotten but much needed step in societal problems.
Taller de Jose recognizes the faults in the system and works towards the development of a sustainable connection between the resources and those in need of them. Day by day I felt empowered by the fire inside my clients. They held a fire that made them strong and full of courage to continue to strive despite the setbacks. My favorite part of working at Taller de Jose is seeing a client grow in confidence to a point that they no longer need my help. They did what they have been doing all their lives resisted, observed, and overcome for the betterment of their lives and the lives of those around them.