We didn’t have internet after the last posting so we are going to be writing about each day asap.
Day 3 in Philly was the day for Rachel and my interviews. We stayed at Temple this night assisted by the R.D. there named Ryan. We had to go to 3 different areas of Philly with less than 40 minutes to get to each. We had stayed up late the night before so we could figure out where each interview would be. The first interview was at the pregnancy place. We interviewed a woman there who was very thorough in all that she said and with all of our questions. That interview went for over an hour and left us only about an hour to get to our next interview. We had to take the trolley. We were more used to taking the subway, so when we had to take the trolley none of us knew what to do so we ended up only just getting to our second interview on time. We went to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The woman we interviewed there wouldn’t let us record her. We interviewed a social worker in the children’s autism department and her intern who was only going to be there for a few more weeks I think she said. That interview was ok…but only lasted for a short time.
The last interview was the most nerve racking interview we had. We had less than an hour to get there and it was in a very different part of the city than either of the other ones were in. We followed the directions we had and we took the trolley again. When we got off we started walking and when we had to pick left or right, we ended up picking the wrong direction and walking for about 9 blocks in the opposite direction of the place we had to go which was 9 blocks from where the trolley ended up. That made us 18 blocks away. There was garbage everywhere! There were no garbage cans on the street for people to put their trash in, so they threw it in the alleys between houses or just on the sidewalks. It was disgusting. During this whole walk, my feet, as well as Rachel’s, were dying from the heels we wore..but Rachel had brought extra sneakers. So I started limping along and when Rachel called the woman we were going to go interview and we found out we went in the wrong direction, we all needed to take a break. So we stopped and Rachel set down the tripod and in the fluster of things we kind of forgot it. We didn’t realize we had left it until we were almost to the place we had the interview at. So, at this point Adam turned around to go get it and Rachel and I didn’t want him to go by himself so we sent Gavin with him. (they did end up finding it where we had left it Thank God!) So Rachel and I went on by ourselves to find the place of the interview. We were in a really bad part of the city for two white girls that were dressed up in fancy clothes and carrying purses and a video camera to be by ourselves. The area was predominantly made up of african americans, which made us seem even more out of place. So, we were getting shouted at and hit on everywhere we turned. I thought it would look better if one of us were on the phone, and it also made me more calm, so I called my boyfriend while we walked. Nothing bad happened to us, but it was still scary. We eventually found the place, but we were an hour late to the interview (which looked bad but the women there understood). Once we finally got there the receptionist was really nice and gave us some drinks and we sat down in a nice comfy conference room where the interview would take place. I realized that my pants had been basically rubbing layers of skin off my legs so I couldn’t walk anymore because it looked like there was a huge rash up and down my legs. The guys eventually got there and we convinced them to go get the car because of my feet and my legs. The interview went well, but we had to wait like an hour after we got there because Wanda (the social worker there) was really busy. The place the interview was at was a substance abuse rehabilitation center. They only help women, and primarily african american women, get into programs that will help them get over their addiction, such as rehab or detox. So after the interview, which went really well, Rachel and I had to wait for the guys to bring the car. We sat on a couch and I ended up sitting next to a woman that was there waiting to find out if she was going to be admitted into a detox program or not. She had been there for a big chunk of the day and when I sat down next to her I felt like God was telling me I needed to talk to her. So I did. I wrote down as much as I could remember in the long car ride to Baltimore, MD after we left Temple.
Her name was Melissa and she is 29 years old. She started heroin when she was 18 and decided to quit before she turned 30, so this is hopefully her last attempt out of about 3 other times she has tried to stop. She’s from a smaller town in PA where she has a husband and 3 sons who are 12, 6, and 4. She left them 3 years ago to come to Philly for easier access to drugs. She visited her home a year ago but was arrested for no reason. Melissa said she was at her mom’s house which is in a drug area of the town she lives in and when the cops didn’t recognize her they picked her up while she was on her way to a store for a candy bar. She was clean at this point. When the cops found out that Philly had a warrant out for her arrest she was taken back there and put into jail. When she got out, her husband was coming to pick her up, but he got lost on his way there and ended up in New Jersey so she hasn’t been able to get out of Philly since. They gave her money when she was let out and soon after, she started using again. The only question I asked her that she got upset about was when I asked what she was arrested for. 3 counts of prostitution and 1 count of possession. She seemed ashamed of the prostitution which is a good thing, but nothing can be taken back now. Her boyfriend, who has never touched drugs, and who loves her, would be the father of the baby she may be pregnant with right now. She is still married though, but the boyfriend is still planning on supporting her going to detox. Melissa has tried to quit before but has always started again because all of the other times she was trying to stop for her family, but since she is doing it for herself now she will be able to stick with it she said. Her husband is planning on taking her back even through all she has done. She is planning on leaving Philly which is good because she can get drugs anywhere, including the nearest corner if she were to walk out of the place we were at she could have gotten them. She looked at Rachel and I and told us that she was jealous and she wished she could be in our position without having to wake up every morning sick because we need the drugs in our system like she does. If she could she would go back to life before drugs. Her friend was there to do the program with her and Melissa said she knows she can do it now. Her husband is ther for her (they have been togehter since 4th grade and he was the first boy she ever talked to when she moved to PA) and her boyfriend is willing to let her go back to her husband when she is done with the program, but will support her and cherish the time he has left with her now. I asked her why she started using. She said to deal with the pain; her husband had sustained an injury while working and he had to stop working. She had to start trying to support her and her whole family, as well as raise her kids. She ended up losing her job and losing her house. She felt like a failure. For some reason, she turned to drugs to get through it and it obviously ended up consuming her. We kept telling her she can do it and her response was always that she knew she could and she will this time. We put a note in her bag telling her we enjoyed getting to talk to her and good luck. Hopefully she gets to use this as inspiration and doesn’t just throw it out. She could definitely use as much prayer as possible to stick through with this.
At our interview with Wanda she said something about how a lot of users have what they see as legitimate reasons to start. Wanda said people need to learn to not judge others for using drugs. They go through things that sometimes we can’t imagine. This applies to Melissa’s situation. We may not think she had a good reason, but a lot of us haven’t dealt with what she had and even if we had to, we know we can turn to God to give us strength. She doesn’t know that she can. I think if we all showed God’s love and grace to others then they might want what we have. A relationship with Him.
That is just the beginning of that long and eventful day. After all of that happened, we got to ride in a car for a long long time, we got lost again, and when we finally got to the hotel we didn’t have internet so we couldn’t really do much on the computer. But, we ended up going to the inner harbor in Baltimore for a bit, then we went to a diner where these drunk men were staring at Rach and I which was a bit ridiculous, then me and Rach took a bubble bath in our bathing suits while the guys slept. So that was the end to that long long day.
sorry this is so long, but this day deserved a long post.