Obert Madondo’s Hunger Strike: December 23 2010 UPDATE
BY OBERT MADONDO
On Tuesday, December 21 2010, I temporarily suspended my hunger strike. I'd started the political action on September 24 (on a limited diet, with two significant breaks recommended by my doctor) to protest my exploitation and racially-motivated neglect, harassment, manipulation, sabotage, discrimination and victimization by some directors of my former employer, CAP AIDS.
I’d begun to feel the strain. Since I started the protest, I’d lost about 26 pounds. In the last couple of weeks, I’d been experiencing regular chest pains!
I'd overexerted my body with: weekly visits to the doctor’s; regular visits to Service Canada offices to pursuing my employment insurance benefits; visits to the library or coffee shop to access internet; exhaustive dialogue with CAP AIDS directors; being out in the cold for extended periods of time, etc.
My back pain, a direct result of my exploitative work situation at CAP AIDS between May 2008 and August 2010, had started to get worse.
My living situation has continued to deteriorate. I have not paid rent and hydro for November and December. My landlord has applied to the Landlord and Tenant Board to start the eviction process. The hearing is scheduled for January 25th. I’m looking for a lawyer to represent me.
My Employment Insurance (EI) benefits are still in limbo because CAP AIDS reported a payment in lieu of notice that I rejected. I've just applied for emergency financial assistance with Ontario Works. A further interview is scheduled for Dec 27th.
That said, I’m in very good spirits. I’m staying positive about my future. I keep my hungry mind locked in on two of my greatest passions – reading and writing!
Since I started the hunger strike on September 24, significant progress has been achieved.
- In writing, CAP AIDS directors acknowledged my numerous contributions to the organization as its executive director between May 2008 and August 2010
- In writing, CAP AIDS directors offered to revisit the only evaluation of my performance, carried out in March 2010. The CAP AIDS directors who conducted the evaluation exercise had used the exercise to harass, undermine and sabotage me.
- A few CAP AIDS directors and I have been dialoguing – like civilized human beings
Still, I’ve a long way to go before I get the minimum respect - and truth – I’m fighting for. The main focus of the next phase of my action will be on the question of exploitation.
As CAP AIDS’ sole employee between May 2008 and August 2010, I worked I worked an average 60 – 80 hours per week; a minimum of 6 000 unpaid hours (Minimum 1900 in 2008; minimum 3000 in 2009 and minimum 1 700 in 2010); at least 45 weekends; overnight at least 30 times; more than 150 evenings and most Canadian statutory holidays. CAP AIDS directors forced me, directly and indirectly, to overwork.
So far, CAP AIDS directors have maintained that this situation is NOT exploitation.
As I prepare for the next phase of my political action, I’m well aware of the potential consequences of a hunger strike, most of which are deadly serious. They include:
- Potentially permanent brain damage
- Potentially permanent damage to internal organs
- Potential failure of internal organs
- Damage to muscle tissue
- Weakening of bones
- Hallucinations / Dementia
But what choice do I have? Even in my wildest dreams, I’ve never imagined that I’d have to resort to a hunger strike to get the minimum respect I deserve as an equal member of the human race. Especially not in Canada! The hunger strike has proved to be the only language the CAP AIDS directors who exploited and abused me seem to understand.
I’ll fight till the truth regarding my exploitative relationship with CAP AIDS reigns!