36-hour homeless challenge begins in Saskatoon
Participants tweeting experience, raising awareness of challenges the homeless face
Jay Semko, frontman for the Northern Pikes, has faced pressure before, on tour and performing in front of big crowds; but over the next 36 hours he's facing his biggest challenge yet–being homeless.
This morning marks the start of a 36-hour Sanctum Survivor Homeless Challenge, where 10 participants have to complete a list of challenges like getting an ID, picking up a needle from a needle exchange site, and collecting money for food.
Semko said his experience being resourceful on the road might help in managing these challenges, but he's coming in very nervous.
I looked at it, and when it was explained to me, I thought, 'wow these are such vulnerable members of society' and this is really an important thing,- Jay Semko
"I've slept in the car and I've done things where I had to be a little bit resourceful sometimes...But this is completely different and just a small glimpse of what homeless people have to deal with," Semko said, adding he didn't sleep very well leading up to this morning's challenge.
Dr. Morris Markentin, president of the Sanctum Care Group, is also participating in this challenge. He said the most terrifying task on the list is collecting money to do laundry and wash the clothes on his back.
"I had a bit of a panic attack," he said on CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.
He added this challenge will hopefully give him more insight on the hurdles his patients at Sanctum face everyday.
According to Sanctum, stats show without any supports in place, homeless people with HIV have a life expectancy of about five years. Markentin said with advancements in medication and treatment, HIV is now a chronic disease and if detected early patients in care will live to see their first pension cheque.
"We could not say that 15 years ago, now we can."
"But if you don't have a home or support, where do you store your meds, where do you keep your stuff?…Without support, the simple task of taking a pill once a day is tough, that's why the stats are that bad," he said.
For Semko, being a part of this challenge is far from his usual performance pieces for charity.
"When it was explained to me I thought, 'wow these are such vulnerable members of society' and this is really an important thing," he said. "I hope I can help people be more aware of homeless people that are HIV positive through tweeting our experience."
With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning