A single wooden post represents little for most of us, but for Miriam it is a statement of her character, a sign of her hard work and a testament to her determination.
Miriam was given help in building the brick part of her home which she shares with her two children and an unrelated older woman, but she does not rely on others to improve her life situation.
Miriam, single-handedly expanded her house to include a room made of wood and sheet metal in addition to the main brick structure. She hung clothing lines to dry her family’s clothes.
Unable to purchase a table, she built one, made of tree branches and mud.
Miriam’s desire for cleanliness is clear in how she cares for her home. Items are organized and put away as well as possible.
The TV on display is simply a decoration. It doesn’t work as they have no electricity to run it on. It represents hope that one day Miriam and her family will have the simple luxury of sitting down in front of the television to rest and watch a movie together in their home.
The dirt floor is maintained by sweeping it and spraying down the dirt to minimize dust.
Miriam works diligently to make things nice for herself and her children, but there are unending obstacles to keeping her home clean and sanitary.
It is a constant struggle to not only keep the cold air at bay, but also to keep bugs and other critters from coming into the home. Stuffing cracks and crevices with whatever they can find or anything not be being used at the time, though insufficient, is the best solution Miriam has found.
Local children, many without latrines of their own, urinate and defecate in the area behind her home–neither pleasant to smell nor to clean up.
Miriam is the mother of two children, the first born when she was still a child herself at just sixteen years old. Ten year old Elvis is able to attend school, but Miriam cannot afford the cost of school for four-year old Christofer to begin kindergarten.
Despite having little herself, Miriam extends help to others. A 75-year old woman, whose children threw her out of their house, lives with Miriam and her children.
As a child, at just five-years old, Miriam lost her own mother to a heart attack. She and her sister did the best they could for themselves in the children’s home in which they grew up, but the repercussions of this loss last until today. She was unable to finish her high school education as it was more important to work to provide for herself. She still hopes to one day be able to finish her high school work and then study medicine at the university.
Miriam’s story is a bit different than others. Despite facing many of the same struggles as others living in poverty, Miriam remains hopeful. Her story leads you to believe that if you work hard enough with what you have, the future may hold a better day. It teaches us that no matter what your circumstances you can improve them.
Written by Shalyce Cluff; Photography by Jose Miguel Amaya