Growing up poor

My name is Mike, and I was born in a very poor neighborhood in Los Angeles. When I was little, my mother took care of my brother and me because my father left before I came to this world, and he wasn’t too interested in being a part of our lives. My mother had to work two jobs that didn’t pay much. She had to work very hard so that we could have food, clothes, and a place to live. She was great; we loved her and appreciated her efforts. Every day, she usually arrived home very late, and she was exhausted. Still, she always cooked nice meals for us, played with us, and made sure that we did our homework. She always insisted on how important it was to get a good education. She couldn’t finish school because she got pregnant with me when she was just a teenager. “I couldn’t finish school, and that’s why I must work so hard now, and I earn so little money,” she often said. Children were very violent in my neighborhood; you needed to be violent if you wanted to survive. There was a lot of crime, vandalism, and drugs. It wasn’t easy to be a good student for any child who lived in our neighborhood. The other children hated you if you got good grades, so I wasn’t very popular. The only positive thing about living in that place is that you needed to be very clever to survive, and that helped me later in life. Finally, my brother and I could finish high school. I went to university because I was a very good basketball player, and basketball paid for my university degree. On the day of my graduation, my mother was in tears. And she was in tears again the day I showed her our new apartment, away from the neighborhood. Do you know how difficult it is to get out of a poor neighborhood? It’s very hard, but I did it, and it was thanks to my mum. Now she doesn’t have to work two jobs anymore, and I take care of her.

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