Without a doubt 2020 has been a difficult year, but for Nova Scotian Alvero Wiggins and his family, it’s been the most challenging year yet.
Diagnosed with a rare kidney disease in 2019, the father of four had to give up his job as a youth outreach worker. He also had to give up hopes of buying a home, as his focus now has shifted to his health and finding a kidney donor.
“It changed my life, big time,” said Wiggins. “I can’t work at the moment. I used to work full time and used to hang out with my friends a lot, but I don’t do that anymore because I have to be at home all the time.”
Wiggins is suffering from Nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disease that forces him to spend almost 10 hours a day hooked to a dialysis machine, to keep his blood clean and himself alive, while he waits for a kidney donor.
Wiggins is used to helping others; for the past decade the 33-year-old has been working with community organizations like Saint George’s Youth Net, Love Nova Scotia and Hope Blooms — all organizations that he was apart of as a youth.
Now, the community he helped support is rallying around him.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by a longtime family friend in partnership with the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia and they are looking to raise $150,000 to help the Wiggins family purchase a new home.
The Community Foundation of Nova Scotia started a new fund earlier this month called “A Home of Their Own” to help bring donors together to raise funds to allow African Nova Scotians like the Wiggins family to achieve homeownership.
“African Nova Scotian communities for decades have faced housing injustice and housing insecurities, all the way back to the razing of Africaville in the 1970s,” said Emma Cruddas, program manager with CFNS.
“I think we are seeing a movement and a desire to bring equity and justice for many of those injustices we’ve seen in that past and that continues to be present today.”
The prospect of buying a home for Wiggins, his wife, and four children seems bleak right now, as the family has given up on that option and moved back into subsidized housing in Uniake Square while Wiggins looks after his health.
“Having to go off of work, we’ve had to use the money that I’ve saved, so you know we’re in a bit of a tight situation,” said Wiggins.
Wiggins refers to himself as a realist or grounded optimist but keeps looking for the positives to celebrate, like the day he found out he was added to the organ donation list.
As his community rallies around him and his family to help realize their dream of homeownership, Wiggins said he’s taking that all in stride.
“My wife is the one who sort of gets excited and things like that or starts thinking about what possibly could be,” said Wiggins. “Me…I’m just thinking about the reality of the situation. I’m thinking what time is it? I got to set this (dialysis) machine up soon.”
The Wiggins family is the first family to receive support from the CFNS “A Home of Their Own” fund and in a challenging year, it’s news like this that gives the family optimism for a better 2021.