Location: Intown Collaborative Ministries
Female, Age 53
“A quit woman Who Say to here Self.
A person you can get Along with
A person who woud help any one she can.”
Daniel Enger: (Interviewer) Good morning, Tamara, today is November 4, 2021, and we’re here on Ponce in Atlanta. My name is Daniel Enger and I have the pleasure of being here today with Tamara. Tamara thank you very much for taking time to talk, I’m looking forward to hearing your story and learning from you. Tamara my first question for you is a really big one namely. Could you please tell the story of your life from the time you were a small child up to the present day?
Tamara: Good morning my name is Tamara and I was born in the Toombs County it’s a small town lived with my mom and my dad. But my life growing up it was kind a crazy, wit my mom anyway. My mom (nervous chuckle) molested me when I was a child and it was hard for me to grow up as a child with going through that you know. And the time I was ready to go to school I didn’t wanna go, I wanted to hang around my mom, I didn’t want no education, I didn’t want to learn nothin, I didn’t want to be nothin you know. Cause my mom was tellin me just be this, be that it’s better instead of doin your education, and I was believen her cause I was just a kid and she was a grown woman and I was supposed to look up to her. That messed me up pretty good you know, and when I growed up to be able to have kids, I was kind a doin the same thing that my mom did to me to my child. So, I gave my child up to my oldest daughter I gave her sister to her you know, because I became that ugly person that my mom made me become. I woke up from that and I realized what I was doing wrong so when I realized that I gave my little girl to her sister for adoption and it came out pretty good, it came out real good from that. I gave her a chance to get her education and to live like a kid, and to grow up and let her be a kid, so, I appreciate things I did. But when I came to Atlanta it was strange, it was weird cause it was a real big town but I could adapt to everything quickly, and it helped me. A lot of sources helped me in Atlanta and I appreciate that, but me being around the wrong people and got on that drugs I slipped I went down. I started confiding that, instead of confiding in the people I was supposed to with. Drugs took me down a long time, then I’m tryin to battle that today I’m doin good I’ve been 4 or 5 days clean, I’m tryin to keep doin it cause it’s hard where I’m at it’s hard you know, every day people come to you,”you got this, you got that” and it bothers me to the point that I want to swing at em, and I’m doing pretty good. Tracy when I see her she make my day, Oh she make my day you know, and I say Tracy such and such day clean, and we do high five do it girl do it, she gimme inspiration to don’t do it you know and she give me the story how she came up and everything, naw man Imma be like you Imma fight this I’m strong like you, Imma fight this stuff. So, I been doin pretty good it’s hard I been drinkin more coffee, eatin more chocolate so she keep me up with chocolate and coffee so I’m doin pretty good.
Daniel: Tamara, of all the things you’ve accomplished or overcome in your life so far, what are you most proud of?
Tamara: I’m proud of I’m not doin no drugs, I’m drug free, it’s been about 5 or 6 days I’m proud of that I know I can do it, I know I can do it. So, I’m tryin my best to think of somethin to do to put in that place so I don’t have to think about that.
Daniel: Tamara, you’ve gained a lot of hard-fought wisdom from your experiences in your life so far, if you were invited to share your wisdom with school kids in your community giving them guidance to live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives, what would you tell them?
Tamara: I’d tell em stay in school, listen to your mom and dad you know, get your education, education come first before anything else you know. And don’t worry about your friends, don’t worry about this and that just worry about you going further in your education that you could be a doctor, lawyer, anything you want to be you know what I’m sayin, make your mom and dad proud don’t let em down you know. Some of em might become basketball players I told a little kid yesterday hey you look like a basketball player go further in your education as you can leave them girls alone, they ain’t no good they’ll keep you down baby, go far in your education, mom and dad be proud of you, he said “okay” (chuckling)
Daniel: Tamara, in what ways would you say your life is going well these days? Please talk a little bit about how life is good for you at the present time.
Tamara: (big sigh) life is great, Life is great. I’m livin life real good because I can’t help to stop thinkin about this, I’m doin good wit drugs, I’m off I feel better, I’m alert, I can think better, you know. Cause when I was on that I was thinkin crazy, I can think real good I’m goin to get on computers to educate myself to a lot of sources and stuff, so it’s doin pretty good for me I appreciate it.
Daniel: Tamara, what led to those things going well for you, how did that happen, who or what has contributed most to your doing well these days?
Tamara: Ms. Tracy, Ms. Tracy when she see me, we hug, we give high five, and when she see me how you doin Tamara we got a little chill goin on you know me and Tracy. She inspire me to do what I’m doin today, she inspire me you can do this you can go further anything you want to be Tamara, only if you believe in yourself, so, that’s what I start doin believe in myself.
Daniel: Tamara, when it comes to living a healthy, safe, stable, and happy life what are your hopes and dreams looking ahead?
Tamara: My hopes and dreams to get apartment, to get off of these streets, and live a healthy life, and live like somebody.
Daniel: What are some of the personal strengths that you draw on as you pursue your hopes and dreams?
Tamara: What you mean by that?
Daniel: What are some of your strengths?
Tamara: My strengths are get apartment I want to get off these streets I want to look like a real human being.
Daniel: When you think about yourself or when people talk about you and they talk about ways in which you’re particularly good at something or particularly strong at something what are those areas where you’re particularly good or strong at something.
Tamara: I’m strong at fightin the drugs I’m real strong at that, I want to be stronger where I can go anywhere and I can smell it and won’t be craven it, that’s where I want to be at. I can look at them and say I been there I can say it wasn’t fun but I been there, that’s what I want to tell em. I want to go to different schools and educate them kids and say hey you don’t want to been where I been get your education these streets ain’t nothin, bein homeless is not fun, people think it’s fun it’s not fun at all. People rapen people, people botherin people, people go up to people and just hit em, like last night this man walked up to another man and just stabbed him for no reason cause he didn’t say hey to him. It’s crazy you have to be careful you have to sleep in the day and be up at night. People been bein bothered, bein raped and all kind of stuff that’s how I been livin, I sleep in the day and be up at night now.
Daniel: Tamara, what are some of the challenges and obstacles that you see standing between you and the realization of your hopes and dreams, what holds you back?
Tamara: Drugs that’s what holds me back I think I would have my life right now if I wasn’t on drugs. I’m off it now I’m 5 or 6 days clean now but I want to be further down the road I want to say Hey I’m a year clean! I’m goin to NAAA I’m goin to them places wit a friend and she don’t make me go she say you’re not obligated, if you want to go or you don’t want to go. I call her come and get me I’m ready to go she say Tamara that’s you? Come get me I’m ready to go to the meeting, yep.
Daniel: Tamara, what needs to be done so that the challenges and obstacles you just talked about can be overcome and you can realize your personal hopes and dreams? You talked about drugs as being a challenge or an obstacle how can that be overcome what needs to be done?
Tamara: I needs to keep going to my meetins stay in my meetins, stay around people that have conquered that and I want a place where I can live like a normal person, long as I’m not living like a normal person there’s always going to be a problem with me. It’s always goin be there to haunt me.
Daniel: Tamara, I would please like to ask a few questions now about the homeless community. How would you describe the homeless community? Who are the people who make up the homeless community?
Tamara: (sigh) Where I’m at they, they, they . . . Oh my God, I wish I wasn’t there all they talk about is drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs, you know, they have to wake up with it, go to bed with it. One lady over there if she can’t get it, she start actin out, she get to screamin, oh man I want to hit her so bad some days (laughter) be quiet lady! She act like a little baby she scream she get on the ground and start kickin waaaa waaaaa I’m like is this real, it’s complicated. But this one man if he can’t get it, he like a pervert he take his stuff out when he can’t get it you know. It’s a lot of stuff goin on out there that’s why I’m goin get away from there I believe if I could get away from there, I would be better in my life, I could live better I know I could do it, I know I could do it, I did this little bit I can go further than that.
Daniel: Tamara, when it comes to living a healthy, safe, stable, and happy life how would you describe the hopes and dreams of people in the homeless community?
Tamara: (pause, mmm, break that down) The young guys they stay round there, they not homeless none of them not homeless they drug boys, they stays in they face. Many a times I done told the police they doin this, this, this, and they got a gun and they don’t do nothin it’s like they don’t care. It ain’t fun to be ratten on people or tellin on people but they keepin me down I got to tell somebody, it ain’t doin me no good, it ain’t educatin me, it ain’t puttin no roof over my head why shouldn’t I tell somebody. They lookin at me like whatever, whatever, I tell em they got this on em, they got a gun on em and they look at me like, I say really, and they don’t do nothin about it, nothin about it, and some of em go back and tell em that I told em. So that put my life in danger I don’t know who to talk to I’m scared to talk to anybody, I’m scared to say somethin to anybody cause you never know who’s who.
Daniel: Tamara, the people you know who are homeless talk about their dreams for their future their hopes and dreams for the future what do they talk about?
Tamara: They talk about how they can get off the streets like me, and how they can do better, cause they got kids and they tryin to see they kids like me. We sit around and talk about how we can kick this situation and when we do, we goin celebrate, we goin go out and party you know just kick our heels up den. And go get jobs I’m goin get me a job too I don’t care where I get a job at and live like a normal person that’s what we talk about me and my friends we can do it, we can do it. Every day we sit down we talk about our dreams what we gonna be in life and I told em for me, for me I am drug free, I want to be a person in society, I want to make society what it is instead of something I can’t do. And she said “what you mean” I want to tell somebody don’t do that, that’s a no no, be good cause you don’t want to be like me that stuff will put you down in the gutter, keep your mind messed up where you can’t think right, think ugly, where you have to sell your body. You don’t want to go through that cause your body is precious, it’s precious baby so don’t let nobody violate that. Once they violate it, it’s over, it’s over they think they can do it anytime they get ready it’s over.
Daniel: Tamara, in the homeless community what are some of the strengths that people draw on as they strive to realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives? In what ways are homeless people particularly strong? What are some of their most positive strong aspects?
Tamara: We get around in a circle and we do AA we have AA meetins you know, we set on our knees we read the Bible, we have questionnaires for each other and we got one guy come around he have questions to ask us, he get everybody incentives for it, so we got somethin good going for ourselves some of us want to do better we got somethin good goin for us. Some of em don’t want to get right they get in our circle and try to say bad things, try to keep things confusion goin on, we don’t have that, we don’t have that. I want my life to be a normal life again I don’t want to look behind my back and think somebody comin, or scared to sit down, scared to say anything, I just want to live a normal life.
Daniel: Tamara, in the homeless community what are some of the challenges and obstacles that make it harder for people to realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives? In the homeless community what holds people back?
Tamara: Drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs, that’s the only thing holden them down I believe, that will keep you down, that will keep your mind messed up, the only way you can think is with that, the only way you can live is with that, you got to go to bed with it, you got to get up wit it, you got to lay down wit it, they make you feel like you can’t live without that you know what I’m sayin. You have to have that involved in your life.
Daniel: What needs to be done so that the challenge the obstacle that you just mentioned drugs can be overcome and people in the homeless community can realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives. How can the drug problem or drug obstacle be overcome for homeless folks?
Tamara: The only way that can overcome they take away the people that give it, if they could do they job very well they won’t have no problem about that. Cause the people that give out drugs they stay around us 24/7 beggin us, when we don’t have money, they say I’ll give you a little piece to wake you up and go get it, you see what I’m sayin, they keep it in your life, thats the only thing I know about.
Daniel: Tamara, imagine for a moment that you’re a powerful leader so slip into the shoes of a decision maker who can really make things happen. How would you change the system as a powerful leader to help the people in your community to realize their hopes and dreams and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives?
Tamara: Get rid of all the drug people, get rid of them. And then I’d do like a program, for instance all the people who want to do better in life think about getting off drugs and . . . (how am I gonna say this) to upgrade your life. I would give out all kind of incentives when they want to keep doin it, keep doin, and doin it, I would give incentives where they want to keep doin better in life. Like teach em how to get on computers, teach em how to look up different things if they want to get in touch with they family, yeah I’d have em doin a lot of stuff.
Daniel: I have one more question for you Tamara. Imagine that you had a million dollars and you could spend it to help the homeless community to realize their hopes and dreams, and live healthy, safe, stable, and happy lives. To help people in the homeless community how exactly would you spend a million dollars?
Tamara: First of all, I’d go around and ask you what do you need? what do you need? Clothes, shoes, have your hair done, your fingers done, I would make em feel better I’ll make their day, if one get they hair done they might feel better, if they want to get they nails done, you know what I’m sayin. One might want get clean clothes on, go to the mall, go to a movie, things like that. Go have girls night out, you know what I’m sayin go have popcorn, see a good movie, you know, I’m sayin just be dreamin.
Daniel: Tamara, I really enjoyed speaking with you tell me is there anything else that you would like to say?
Tamara: Thank you Ms. Tracy for making me feel well, I can do this, I can go on with life, I feel good right now, my mind is clear it’s free, I can think I’m not on drugs and I feel so happy that I can keep on talkin (laughter), and I want to be in a community where I can help these women like I said movies, picnics, have a little girls night out, girl talk, or something like that I want to be in a position where I can help em do that. If I could be in a position to help em do that, I’d be so proud, I would be so elated I wouldn’t know what to think. (laughter)