The Open Shelter

Saving Saida & Saddika

Saida & Saddika are two sisters The Open Shelter assists. Both have been through many struggles but continue to remain upbeat and positive in the face of it all. They sat down to share with us about themselves and how The Open Shelter and your support has helped them.

Saida & Saddika

Are You From Columbus?

Saida: “We are from Dayton but were raised in Columbus. Our mother died while having us. She left nine children at 26 years old. We grew up near Franklin Park on Rose Avenue. We had the best childhood ever. Our grandmother and father raised us. No real struggles growing up. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a parent.”

Saddika: “All of us worked at a candy apple factory. I was 9 years old, it was my first job. We made candy apples and ate plenty of them! I would sell them for 10 cents to our neighbors. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a comedienne.”

“Our father was a working man, he worked two jobs all of his life to raise his six girls. He took six kids in because the other kids wasn’t his. He put us all through college. He worked at Capital University.”

When Did Things Take A Turn?

Saida: “Having children at a young age. I had three kids by the time I was 20. My grandmother raised us but she died when I was 15. I think I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I have three beautiful children and I have raised Saddika’s two. We have always helped each other. We have always stuck together no matter what struggles we went through. We may have had our issues, but we always came around. Out of all my siblings, Saddika always had my back and I have her back.”

Saddika: “I got into drugs. I was on crack for 10 years during my 30s. I wanted to hang out with my friends that were doing crack. I became clean by just walking away. I am one of those who just walked away. When you are addicted to crack, you just want more. It’s like an adrenaline high. You are constantly chasing the high. All of my friends that did drugs, they all went back. Some of them went to rehab. I was the only one who walked away and stayed clean. I used to drink everyday. I smoked cigarettes everyday. When they got to $4 a pack, I said that’s it on them.”

“I tried snorting heroin one time. I was so high, the girl who was with me, she walked me around the corner and we saw a person that fell out from heroin. I snapped back and said to myself I can’t do drugs no more. It was a very scary moment. It was very scary seeing someone laying there dead from heroin and I had just did heroin! My friend was shooting it and I said ‘let me try, let me try!’, I didn’t want to do a needle since I am scared of them. She said I could snort it. I snorted some and it didn’t do nothing. Then, I did it again. And next thing I know, I almost passed out. They said ‘You got to walk, you got to walk’, that’s when we walked arong the corner. Heroin is more like a sleepy high.”

“I know a lot of people who have passed away because of drugs. A lot of friends. I tried to talk to them. All of my friends who still get high, I try to talk to them. I struggled and I know how it is. I know what it is like to struggle with drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.”

Tell Us About Being Homeless

Saddika: “I was homeless nearly the 10 years I was on crack. I neglected my children. I have two children. I just lost my daughter to alcoholism. It’s very hurtful to see your kids struggle through what you struggled through. I slept outside. I was cold and hungry. Back in the day, there weren’t places to help you like The Open Shelter. No one really gave a damn about poverty, especially in the 80s.”

“I knew a lot of people. Whoever was out there with me, we just got along. It was like a family and friend thing back then. Homeless people weren’t looked at like they are today. You could sleep in the park. Nobody bothered you. Now if you sleep in the park, you will get attacked. It is different from when I was coming up. Crime wasn’t as big of an issue back then.”

Saida: “I was always afraid to raise my kids in the projects. I was scared of that lifestyle. Rent was high and people weren’t paying me on jobs. I tried to work data entry jobs that were flexible since I had my kids at home. I was homeless for 6 to 7 years. Thank God I had a lot of friends. It was hard not having my own and losing respect from my children. Kids don’t understand struggles until they go through it themselves; how hard it is to pay for food, rent, electric, water and gas bills. We also have another sister who had five children, so we all tried to help each other. We had another sister who struggled with mental illness and she passed away. But she would allow us to sleep on her couch when we were homeless.”

How Did You Both Battle Through Your Struggles?

Saida: “I want to say it was the Will of God. Prayer. God is more powerful than you can ever imagine. We are glad we are here. We made it through the struggles and the struggles were worth it. It taught our kids to be strong, how to make it, how to go through any obstacle and handle it through some of their issues. Mental illness runs through our family. But, we are real close. Our children take care of us. We are blessed.”

Saddika: “Prayer! Prayer helped me through my whole life. Saida’s daughter tries to help everyone in our family.”

How Did You Find Out About The Open Shelter?

Saddika: “I found Solomon (Deputy Director of Day Services) when I was struggling. I was helping my daughter-in-law with her kids, that is how I found Solomon. We were Downtown one day hungry and I saw The Open Shelter sign on the door. That is when you were on Mound St., I went in there and Solomon and I have been history ever since. He has helped me through everything. When I lost my granddaughter, he helped me through that. Solomon is a good guy. He might holler a lot but he is a good guy (laughing).”

Saida: “I found out through Saddika. We do have a lot of great grandnieces and great grandchildren. Kids don’t go get help like we would. So we try to help them as much as possible too. Keeping food in their cabinets, getting clothes for them. Even people in our senior citizen building; a lot of them aren’t able to get out and get a sack lunch, so we will take food to them. We try to spread the message to others we try to help. Saddika & I live right across the hall from each other at Mount Vernon Plaza. They are remodeling it and it is nice.”

How Has The Open Shelter Helped You?

Saddika: “Solomon is a great guy. Solomon is the reason I am here. With food, clothing, and lunches for the kids after school. “

Saida: “With information! Information will carry you more than anything. There are people who don’t know about this place. I have told many people about it.”

What Are You Looking Forward To?

Saddika: “My comedy career! I need a podcast. Somebody help me! I don’t know how to do a podcast. I need to be on instagram and facebook. I am not good with any of it. So come get me Tyler Perry! (laughing) I did a little comedy during The Open Shelter’s Mother’s Day Event in the past. I did an open mic night on Oak Street. It went well, I got a standing ovation. I had them cracking up. I have a lot of stories. I also have a son who does stand-up.”

Saida and Saddika are two familiar faces we see on a regular basis. They, along with many others, come to The Open Shelter for food, clothing, hygiene items, and supportive services such as Birth Certificate & State ID assistance, third-party money management, and linkages to healthcare and food assistance.

YOUR Support Keeps The Open Shelter OPEN For Them. Thank You.

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