By: Delia Marrero
I have grown as a person living in poverty, watching a system that creates a cycle of dependency with very few passages for escape. This system promotes stereotypes and generalizations. The conditions that are associated with poverty vary. It is set up in such a manner that children living in poverty receive a second-rate education based on their geographic location and eating sub-standard meals with little or no nutritional value. Neighborhoods lack resources, education rates are low and escape is rare. Low-income neighborhoods are clustered with individuals who have been born and raised in poverty. Every day is a struggle.
Poverty is a persistent aspect of human existence, of my existence. Riddled with inequality and strife, poverty has provided me with a unique set of personal conflicts that follow me throughout my life. I live just making ends meet on a daily basis while raising my children. I work fulltime and still can’t afford my own place to live. I am motivated by the desire to provide my children with better opportunities in life, but all too often I see that their opportunities are limited by my economic standing.
I am a high school dropout, a single teenage mother and a welfare recipient. I am employed, have earned an Associate’s degree and am a college student working towards a Bachelor’s degree – and I am poor. There are times when I am ashamed of myself. There are moments when I break down because I can’t get out of this persistent rut. It has made me feel as though my potential will always be overshadowed by my social standing. I feel the grip of poverty and it holds on tight.
I live in a world that casts aside potential based on economic status. I see people who are caged in their surroundings and left to their own devices.
I have always had a job, sometimes two, all while raising my daughters and going to school. For 10 years I have worked hard trying to do the right thing, and for 10 years poverty has broken my spirit and trampled my stride. Over the years I have seen my income increase but it has not increased enough to remove me from the clutches of poverty.
Education though has provided me with an effective tool to combat poverty. I have been able to increase my earning potential over the years through my education. I have opened my eyes to the injustices of poverty, the inequalities that affect communities and the harsh realities that many families live in. This is the life I have lived.
Poverty is exhausting, and it takes a lot of hard work, desire and persistence to break free from its grasp.
About the author:
Delia Marrero is a full-time employee at CACLV with the Weatherization program, which helps community members lower living costs by weatherizing homes through services such as furnace repairs, caulking, insulation and weather-stripping.