TRURO, N.S. – Rainy nights and soaking wet clothes are Ali Archibald’s most vivid memories of roughing it on Truro’s streets.
One evening she slept inside the BMO building’s foyer on Commercial Street. On other occasions Archibald slept in the woods around town and lit fires using sticks or scraps of paper to stay warm as icy weather tightened its grip.
“It made my head go in dark places,” said Archibald. “Feeling like I had nobody. Feeling alone.”
Her slide into homelessness started in late 2016, after a dispute with family members. She ended up losing her two little boys, then her home.
Suddenly on the streets, Archibald managed to stay at friends’homes some of the time, on one occasion sleeping in a shed with a fireplace. If she was lucky, she could put her wet clothes in a dryer.
During the warmer summer nights, Archibald could sleep in a car.
“You always find some way to cope or something to survive,” said Archibald.
At one point, she did find an apartment, but was soon forced to move out due to mould.
Archibald’s fortunes finally turned for the better when she approached the Truro Homeless Outreach Society for help earlier this year. By then she had a boyfriend who, like her, was homeless.
“I was really scared to come here,” recalled Archibald.
At first, she spent nights in THOS’s upstairs dormitory, where she finally had somewhere warm and comfortable to sleep.
All the while, THOS’s volunteers gave her self-esteem coaching and helped her make new friends, boosting her confidence.
But the biggest milestone came Dec. 1, when Archibald and her boyfriend moved into her new apartment on Prince Street, having been successfully resettled by THOS.
Presently, she volunteers at THOS every day, giving back to the organization that helped her. When the Truro News visited her last week, Archibald was sorting through bags of donated foodstuffs and cleaning supplies in the basement.
However, she is still recovering from her ordeal and has not reconciled with her family.
While Archibald wants to find a job, she is currently on social assistance and has a note from her doctor, excusing her from work while she rebuilds her life.
Top of mind is being reunited with her two little boys, aged four and seven, as being apart from them takes its toll. To this end, she is applying for legal aid.
“I never used to have anxiety or depression, now I have extremes of anxiety and depression,” said Archibald.