“It breaks my heart not to be able to do anything.”
Eight years ago, I emigrated from Peru to New York City. I was a trained elementary teacher in Peru, but here I work hard cleaning houses and bathrooms to earn money for my family. I’ve applied to numerous jobs with New York schools to use my teaching skills, but I don’t have the connections or the English abilities. I have my documents, but each time I call to apply they tell me there are no positions available.
I earn $9 per hour and my husband, who also does cleaning for a living, earns $13. Even working full-time, we can barely cover the basic costs of living in Queens. New York is the most expensive state in the country and we can barely make it. We can’t afford to have savings.
In order to afford the rent, our family has to share our apartment with another family. It’s crowded and we don’t have the privacy that I would like to have, especially having a 6-year-old daughter, but it’s the only way that we can afford the rent. I’d also really like to send my daughter to a better school someday.
We live paycheck-to-paycheck and my daughter, Michelle, notices it. I’ve heard her praying to God to “send my mami some money so that she can buy me a little doll,” and it breaks my heart not to be able to do anything.
While I’m at work, Michelle is in school or being taken care of by a neighbor, who also happens to be an unemployed professional. Michelle tells me, “Moms should be with their kids,” but I have to keep working to make ends meet.