I was cleaning my son’s room a years ago when I found this amongst his school papers. It hasn’t been easy raising him in the middle of poverty, and there are so many times I have shed many tears over the things I can’t give him because of it. Yet, it is at moments like this, when I read his own words and see him drawing strength from what many would consider a weakness that I have hope that perhaps I have given him something more important than material goods: the confidence to know that no matter his circumstance, he can take something positive out of it. For all those who struggle with poverty today, for all those who think that poverty is the absolute worst thing a child can face, I’d like to share his essay with you today. He was just 14.
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade! It’s a really popular saying, but I deal with an especially sour lemon: being poor. At school, they make poverty sound distant and weak. However, poverty is not only real, it is terrifying. Poverty causes wide-eyed fear, not knowing where to go next, not even knowing how to scrape by.
Now, as bad as poverty is, it is not a state of despair. You can live through it. In fact, you can even grow from it. All it takes is a strong will and a healthy dose of determination! Poverty makes life hard in general. You don’t have a lot. So, you learn to make the most of it. Doctors charge hefty prices for their services, so you learn to diagnose and treat yourself. Poverty can transform you into a strong person with an arsenal of skills.
Living through poverty, there’s never enough. We never have enough food, enough money, or enough time. I have learned how to make time. Since we don’t have a lot to eat, we sometimes eat the same thing three days straight. Pickiness is not an option. Money is scarce, so I rarely get anything new. Old toys, I learned, can be just as interesting as new toys. Even though I loathe the idea, I have learned that college is a necessity.
Poverty can make people, and break them. The secret is being willing to adapt. Poverty can give you new skills and make you slow down and appreciate what you have. If not for poverty, this paper wouldn’t have been written!