Anna - Wanda's Arts Award Winner

Growing up in a small South American village, Anna learned that the best things in life really are free.  Her humble beginnings were filled with the comfort of community and the steady love of a strict but caring mother. Anna fondly remembers, “My mother couldn't afford books, but she would send me to the library.  Every week I had to learn one word and make a sentence from it.”  Anna’s passion for writing was born.

It’s a talent she continues to pursue while living with Homes First. The agency provided her with housing after a series of unhappy events left her financially unstable. Anna’s tone is resolute when she recalls the decision to place her health above her income. It’s a decision she owns, and for a time she lived in a rooming house with a woman from Guyana. But now, she has her own room and more independence. She credits the agency for giving her the means to live with dignity and health and she’s grateful to call her surroundings home.  “[The residents] call me grandma here” she shares.   “They know they can come anytime and knock on my door if they have a problem.  If you need a word of comfort or to come down here and cry, it's okay.”

Her compassion is also reflected in her writing.  Anna is inspired by human interaction, and though she often writes for herself, she also writes to inspire others.   "I wrote a poem for my neighbour,” she begins “because she was confused, lonely and most of all she was hopeless.  I wrote it to let her see that she was looking for help in the wrong places, she was looking for love in the wrong places, she was looking for courage in the wrong places.  When I gave her the poem she cried and said, 'That's me.'  I said 'You have the strength to recognize it's you, why not have the strength to change it?'"

Anna’s benevolence is based on one of her beliefs: “No man is an island and we’re here to learn from and interact with each other,” a theme that’s expressed in her other creative medium, painting. She’s influenced by the way we feel and the relationships we create, both in our public and private lives.

When asked what she would use the WAA bursary for, Anna pauses before responding. “I’m surprised to even be nominated but I don’t think winning is important – it won’t affect how I carry on with my writing or painting.”  With a wave of her hand, she dismisses the question.  “I don’t consider myself an artist.” Her wise and poetic words, etched onto the sheets of paper she keeps stored away, tell another story.


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