I am a child of color, poverty, hunger, low self-esteem, anger, love, passion, independence, advancement, confidence, and happiness. This long, yet necessary list of emotions illustrates the epitome of my existence that has been filled with rigors most people could only dream of. This harsh reality that I have experienced drives me to want to make a change in the world. However, I feel that in order to make change happen, people must understand and share this vision through my eyes.
The story of my life begins in Oromia. Before I could even walk or recite my first words there was turmoil in my life due to family quarrels. My parents had me out of wedlock and were frowned upon by the community. Because of this, my mother was forced to give me up to my father who in turn passed me on to my grandmother. My father ended up leaving me with my grandmother permanently once he was given the opportunity to migrate to the US. As an abandon child, being raised without my parents set me back emotionally because I never had the opportunity to receive the level of love and compassion a child should be given. Given that both my parents left me at an early age, I grew confused as to who my parents were. The closest I was to with my father at that time was through a picture, but I didn't find out who my mom was until I was fifteen years old. To make matters worse, my grandmother had to provide for me and her children so receiving love from her was always a challenge. My grandfather saw me as a giant burden and blame for all destruction in the family. I would always turn away from my grandfather because I didn’t want to see the disappointment on his face. My grandmother and I lived in hut made out of dirt and hay that was barley stable. Sleeping at night was intolerable because it was so cold. I was forced to sleep with her until the day I left to the US just to receive the body warmth. Aside from our living conditions, receiving an education was not a priority for my family because I was expected to stay home and help gather food and look after cattle. Even if I didn't have responsibilities, I still would not have had the opportunity to attain an education because we lacked the essential resources such as money. I was a child of poverty not because my family didn’t work or because they were getting a high from substance abuse. I was a child of poverty because it was just the way of life in Oromia. I could not complain to my grandmother of the things I didn’t have because they were not provided in my community. Grandmother taught me to be grateful for what I had and if I wanted more I was to put in hard work and dedication. My life in Oromia had its happy moments, but moments of joy were greatly overshadowed by pain and misery.
I was fortunate enough to come to the United Sates at the age of eight, but I had witnessed enough agony and despair no child should ever have to observe. Living in Africa, I saw children dying from disease and malnutrition. Children in my own community suffered of these tragic episodes due to insufficient food supplies and medical assistance/treatment located hours away. Regardless of distance, children were turned down for services because there was a shortage in money. The women in the village never went to the hospital to give birth; instead they act as each other’s doctors. I was delivered by my grandmother in the fields. I was lucky enough to survive, but many others are not as fortunate.
Poverty is a subject that haunts me because it is something I have to endure in my life time. I perceive poverty as an issue that needs to be addressed directly and with full attention. It is not a subject to be taken lightly because it affects all races, cultures, communities, and society as a whole. Essentially, poverty is the lack of money, food, clothing, and shelter. However, poverty is much more than just the lack of those basic needs. Poverty is not being able to get medical attention because you don’t