What poverty gives
I was born to an unemployed mother who remains that way to this day, who was born to an alcoholic mother.
I was born to two siblings that never expected me, though they sheltered me, and that is my only privilege. Through this I was able to not experience hunger that lasted days — hunger I saw on collapsed 9 year olds in my 3rd grade.
I never knew want until I was in the 5th grade; I saw my peers buy snacks in addition to their lunches as I saw my mother break her break in 3 places to provide me with rice and beef.
This didn’t break me.
In the 7th grade I lost my sister, my friend, to what a private hospital could have resolved. From that year I learned to hide, and with that I hid throughout my high-school career.
I believed I knew poverty until I moved to Cape Town. That was until I learned that enamel mugs belong to privilege and being barefoot is a sign of culture. Where I’m from, culture was shaped by how many times a week you ate meat is with you’re dinner.
After all of this, the greatest poverty I suffered was being robbed of hope. I regain that every day and this has given my life meaning. I live to contribute to others, so that they may never need to experience what I did.
This is part of the poverty I’ve known.
This is part of the poverty that shaped me.