From Struggles To Successes…

In the spring of 2012, the Ve’ahavta Organization (a Toronto-based humanitarian relief agency)  put out a call for submissions to their 11th Annual Creative Writing Contest.  This contest invited people with past experience of living on or near the street to share tales of their struggles and successes.  Marking 11 years of honouring the seldom heard voices of the people who have learned from experience, this contest highlights courage, hope, survival, and inspiration…and awards a $2000 top-prize.

One of the most inspiring entries, short-listed for the Grand Prize, comes from a former peer worker at Street Health and Regent Park CHC, who is now a full-fledged member of the Street Health staff!


Martin Thompson [scroll down for Marty’s poems] is a living testament to the value of inclusion, support, trust, and faith in the model of harm reduction.  With support and increased responsibility, one can change, grow, and then go on to help others.

His writing is inspired by the experience of being homeless and a drug user, as well as by other fellow peers who have shared similar struggles. Marty says, “…this was me telling my story, but I realized that a lot of people out there could also learn something, could benefit from hearing this.”  He overcame his own shyness and submitted two frank and deeply human poems for the contest…to both express himself and to help others who are still struggling.  Research and theory do inform our awareness, but peer advice gleaned from experience adds an unmistakable authenticity to the help we offer those in need.

The award ceremony to announce the top prize winners and allow them to speak, is tentatively scheduled for the first weekend of June, and will also include a community lunch.  Contact Theresa at Ve’ahavta for details (416) 964-7698 x214.

We at Street Health are proud to present the words and experiences of Mr. Martin Thompson, words that may just win him the Grand Prize!



Cheque Day

Those Kings and Queens and Wannabes,

Live in their realm of fantasy, and nothing can change what they truly believe,

Those Kings and Queens and Wannabes.

All those Kings wage war, with all those Queens standing by their sides,

While commanding their Wannabes to battle on then die

Those Kings and Queens and Wannabes.

All those conquerors were conquered, and not a sole was left alive.

All those who thirst for victory, they were the first to die.

This goes to prove they think they can more then just get high.

And now that it’s over, all said and done

They were wishing they hadn’t tried it just for fun.


By: Martin Wesley Thompson



Those Dirty Old Stairs


We got rats, we got roaches

We got bedbugs too, they were biting us,

We know they will bite you too.

On those dirty old stairs.

We got urine in one corner, human excrement in the other,

We are so glad she can’t see us here


Our dear Mother.

On those dirty old stairs.

We got morphine, we got oxys, we got percodans too

While we are injecting them, the others will be robbing you

On those dirty old stairs.

When we wake up on the stairs,

All we can feel on are faces are tears.

We look up to the sky, and ask someone to help us get out of here,

Off those dirty old stairs.


By: Martin Wesley Thompson