Carlos lives in poverty and, though he spent part of his infancy and adolescence on a misguided course, he took it upon himself to get back on the right path. He is a guy with a little bit of luck and a lot of determination.
“I don’t have happy memories of my infancy. I was born when my mom had just turned 14 years old, and my dad was 16. One day, when I was 9 years old, my mom didn’t come home and I never saw her again. I was told that another man won her heart and they fled together. That is when my life story begins.
At 10 years old I rebelled. I didn’t want to be with my dad because we lived in a sad and desolate house with my two brothers. The poverty wasn’t so bad for us because we faced it together head on, but, accompanied by indifference, fear, verbal abuse and alcoholism, I started to feel likeI was losing all the battles. Because of that I looked to the street, seeking advice, refuge and family.
In reality, I am 19 years old and have as many memories as experiences and difficulties. I probably have enough to write a book filled with fantastic and incredible stories, but stories that are at the same time painfully true. I used to consume drugs because I felt enclosed, without any options, and hung around “friends” that advised me to go along the wrong path. I was not a person. I lived only to do bad things, hurt people, and try everything that was bad for me.
I don’t know what happened to me, but when I was 15 years old I returned to my dad’s house and lived with him, my two brothers and two more. After I left, my dad had another relationship but she too abandoned him, they say, because she was much younger than him. I started reading the Bible and now I am a member of the Evangelic church. My Pastor gives me advice and I feel like Christ fills my life. I have changed my way of living, my way of thinking, and now I live a good life despite everything I have been through. I am sure that being bad is not for me, because my dream is to study and work.
The guys in my neighborhood see me as an example, they respect me, and I advise those who are going along the wrong path to change because being sinful gets you nowhere. I tell them the life of a criminal is not the right life for us to live. I tell them to work and seek help from their families, to play their cards how I have played mine and get out of the black hole that I too was once in. Some people don’t believe I have changed at first, but when we talk, when they see me at school and see the artisan crafts I have made to sell, they realize that I’m really not the man I used to be, that I am not and don’t want to be along that path anymore.
I’m going to tell you about how I started making bracelets and how I discovered my artisan craft-making talent. I got a job working the night shift in a factory for $10 per day. Sometimes my co-workers would help me collect cord with which I would make some bracelets to sell. I never made much though, because I also had to help my dad at home. For that reason, when HdC representatives came to my school offering micro-loans, I knew that was the solution to making my dream of owning a business a reality. I want to learn more about weaving, make more artisan crafts, learn about information technology and study commercial engineering at a university. My dream isn’t far off; everyone in my family is good with numbers.
I would like to say to whoever reads my story that young people, many times, rebel because we don’t have good direction, someone to guide us, to show us respect and good manners. Young people are becoming more and more disrespectful all around the world. No one shows us from the time we are children that, if we need or want something, we shouldn’t go after it with force. My house is filled with males, and all of us take turns to cook, clean, or any other household chores because we should all do our part to help.
It is my dream that those young people who say “I can’t,” will lift their spirits and find the drive to get ahead and not give up for anything in the world. I hope they will always have high spirits and see the light within the darkness. I hope that if they are invited to go down the wrong path they won’t fall into the trap, because all of us are the same, the same as other people. We all have the same capacities, abilities, passion for big things in life that motivate us, help us and tell us about the strength in having a spiritual life. All of us deserve respect, whether we are black, thin or fat; we all deserve respect whoever we are.
One opportunity is that the poor, at least in my case, need the chance to learn to make better artisan crafts, start my own business, someone to believe in me, who will give me a vote of confidence. I don’t want to spend my years begging in the street, knocking down doors, living from the sympathy of the people. Poverty is beautiful. To live in poverty is beautiful because only then do you value and make note of how much everything costs, and notice that nothing in life is easy. That is what we hope, though I don’t think it represents much. What do you think?”