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“In my heart of hearts, I wanted to do the right thing, but selling drugs was easy. Everyone was doing it. I mean, I’m not using that as an excuse, I made my own decisions. But I grew up around these Robin Hood figures who would sell drugs, then buy supplies for kids who were going back to school, or pay rent for an old woman who was about to get evicted. All my friends were doing it. It almost seemed fashionable. I never felt proud of it. I always thought I’d transition to a job with the Transit Authority, or a job like this— something I’d feel good about, but instead I transitioned to jail. I did six years. When I got out, it was tempting to go back to the easy money, because everyone around me was still doing it, and I couldn’t get a job. But luckily I found an agency that helps ex-cons, because there aren’t many companies looking to give people a second chance. I’ve had this job for a few years now. You know what product I’m selling now? Myself. Everyone around here is my client. Times Square is a drug to these people. And I’m picking up all the trash so that they can have the full Times Square experience.”
This story tells us of how hard it is to struggle with jobs and money. Sometimes the most dangerous things can be the most appealing, easy things, while also being the hardest to turn away from. But it is possible, as shown, to escape that life, if only one has the will power to do so.
“I found her crushing up rocks and loading them onto the back of a truck, for which she got paid just a few dollars a day. But she also told me she was enrolled in school, and had high ambitions. “Maybe I’ll be President,” she said, laughing.”
“What would you do if you were?” I asked.
“I’d take all the children off the street, bring them somewhere, and teach them,” she said.
“Afterwards, she wrote down her name and email, so I could send her the picture.
Her name was ‘Innocent Gift.’” (Juba, South Sudan)
This young girl’s story shows how vibrant a child’s dreams can be, because they still believe that the sky is the limit – something that adults seem to forget.
“I’m an unemployed single father, and I feel like I’ve been written out of the economy. I’ve got a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology, but I can’t get a job in teaching, medical writing, or research. They showed us a video in the food stamp office about finding a job. It showed some guy bagging groceries, and he said something like: ‘People assume I’m not smart because I’m bagging groceries, but I’ve got a bachelors degree and some graduate school experience!’ I think they were telling me to lower my expectations.’”
This story tells us about how recently the world has shaped up in a way where getting a functional steady job that pays well is only getting tougher. Unemployment is something that has been tackled by the government for a while, but are the ones who are employed, employed in the right place?
“I don’t want to live anymore.”
This is a picture that speaks for itself. What happiness does one seek? What is it that someone needs in life? Depression can have a million reasons. But, is it worth a life?