Every attitude, every gesture has to fight poverty and exclusion. There are many ways to act, regardless of our skills and availability. These messages, these testimonials reflect. Feel free to contribute.

Testimonies are published under the responsibility of the author. They are subject to validation: these will be published only if they comply, in form and substance the spirit of this day as defined in the International Charter for October 17.

 

Testimony of Ashley Knoskie, October 17, Dickenson County, VA, USA

My name is Ashley, I am a single mother from South West Virginia. I remember there were hard times at home, times when we had nothing, times when we needed help and we didn’t get it. We only had each other as a family. Dad was working a long way away and he‘dbeen gone weeks at a time.

He got very sick one year he had a mini stroke. He also had diabetes through the orange agent he was exposed to in Vietnam. His legs got very bad. He had to quit his job and Mom had to start working at the prison. It's hard when you are 13 to see your dad going down slowly.

To me he was invincible, he was my superman. I had to take over the finance of the family, my dad taught me. He also taught me to drive. He taught me a lot. He always encouraged me to read, He’d say if you read your mind will be open and you will learn I had started going to college but then I had my son Xander and I had to give it up. I knew I had to care for my son first.

I ended up being my dad’s full carer. I used to drive him to the hospital a long way away. Getting him in the truck and I came back in time to take my mom to her work in the prison. Through it all, my dad kept telling me: one day you’ll get back to study to be a nurse or a doctor.

When he died 5 years ago it shattered me. I was lost. My mom helped me; she pushed me to get out of the house and meet people; I went bowling, made friends…

My best friend’s mom offered me a job as a receptionist in the nurses’ office. Little by little I got doing things with patients. I knew how to do them because of my dad. The more I learnt in the medical field, the more I wanted to become a nurse. I became a nursing assistant. Now I am studying to be a registered nurse.

Between work and studying and looking after my son, it’s a long week. I get very tired. I get up at 5.30 to get Xander to the baby sitter who takes him to school. I have to do miles to go to work and to college. In the evening I get my son from school. At home I have to give him all my attention as he is autistic and needs even more attention. It’s a hard journey but anything you do that’s hard is worth it in the end.

I would like to tell young people never to think “I am not smart enough to do this or that.” It doesn’t matter what people might tell you. It’s not what they think, it is what you want. You can do it if you want it bad enough. And if you have people around you, who believe in you.

Ashley Knoskie