By Clare BruceFriday 20 Dec 2019
It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time” – but there’s a dark side to Christmas that crushes many people: debt. Whether it’s from sudden unemployment, mounting bills, or from gift shopping we really can’t afford, CAP – Christians Against Poverty – is there to help people get back in control of their finances. Trixie (above) is one of many who have found hope with CAP. This is her story.
My name’s Trixie and I’m a mother of three: Brayden, Isabelle and Hunter. My family have lived in the same district for 5 generations, in a small town in rural Victoria, and I live in the old General Store building that I fixed up with the help of my father.
I’m very isolated – I live half an hour away from my nearest town. I’m a very proud, stubborn, driven woman. I’ve always been a worker and had a job in agriculture. It was a very well-paying job, one in which I was very successful in and felt very proud of who I was. I couldn’t really want for much; every project I had in sight I could achieve.
I was 31 weeks pregnant when I woke up one night and my waters had ruptured. I wasn’t prepared to have a premature baby; there was a huge financial crunch that came with that and just I put it all on the credit card. It was everything that she needed: the heaters, the warmth, the things I didn’t have. I went from working to just raising the children. It was quite difficult.
The credit card bill just kept getting higher and higher and once I went past that 1 year interest-free, the bills went right up. Every month I tried to make a payment, but it would never take anything off the bill. It came to a point where I had to make my calls by the telephone box. I didn’t have a phone, I didn’t have a car, and the house was going to be taken from us. Everything I had worked for in the past was going to be gone.
Removing the Burden of Shame
I had shame that I hadn’t felt before – it wasn’t what I had intended for the kids, it’s not what I wanted for them. I’d run into friends and I’d just burst into tears.
I ended up at the local food bank and they gave me a business card for CAP. So I called CAP, and I had a lady named Jenni contact me. She said she would come out to see me which was really convenient, as I couldn’t go into town to see her.
The kids hadn’t had visitors in a long time, and when Jenni arrived they got some blocks out and had a ball! We talked about my finances and I felt really empowered. I was going to be able to hand everything over. Jenni encouraged me to gather up all my bills. I was overwhelmed with the total. I knew that it wasn’t going to be a quick fix.
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It was a long journey, but it was a journey that gave me hope. Jenni is more than a lady from CAP; we’ve become friends. She’s opened up doors for me and I got to reconnect with my faith. The kids have really enjoyed going to church, it’s been really social for them. They get to have a blast, have a dance, say a little prayer!
I felt a lot of shame making those initial calls and saying, “This is who I am. I have a huge debt problem and it’s beyond me. I can’t fix this, I can’t fix it on my own”.
Now, I love being able to speak out, and hopefully be a voice to encourage other people to pick up that phone. If you’re struggling, make the change and just take those steps, it’s the best thing you can ever do.
I don’t know how to thank CAP – they put a smile back on my face and the song back in my heart. CAP has given us the light at the end of the tunnel!