We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofAlexander Ankum

Ever since I was in kindergarten, I dreamt of having a good life. I wished I wouldn’t have to worry about money. I wanted to live in an amazing house with unlimited amounts of food. Unfortunately,  that wasn’t the case. When I was born, my family significantly struggled financially. There were days my parents worked extra hours in order to put food on my plate. Hopping from apartment to apartment, struggling to pay rent with a growing family, money was getting tight and times were getting difficult for us.  Living with two younger sisters, we needed money to put food on five plates and pay bills. Both of my parents were working which meant we did not have time to spend with them. Since they worked long shifts, I spent most of my days with my grandparents. Although I enjoyed my time with them, I wanted more time with my parents. When my sister was born our family’s financial situation became even more severe. I can remember when my grandfather would travel miles and miles from his home to ours to bring  us food. To this day I am still thankful that he went through such extents to provide food for our family.  My parents took time off work in order to provide for my sister. The problem was that my parents were unable to earn any money while caring for my sister. The whole family chipped in, my dad providing food and my mother and I caring for my sister. Once my dad started to work again, he had to work longer hours in order for us to stay in the same apartment. As my sister and I became older, my mother was finally able to work as well. Unfortunately, that meant that my sister and I would stay at our grandparent’s house, and we saw our parents occasionally. Although we were unable to see our par- ents throughout the day, we enjoyed our time with our grandparents. Sadly, things were about to change for the worse.  When I was around five years old, the corporation that my mother worked for shut down and we lost that income. Not only that, but my parents decided to have another child. Money was tighter than ever which made it one of the most difficult times of my childhood. Thankfully, we had amazing extended family members like my grandparents who were able to provide food for us when my parents could not.  Although it may have been difficult at times, life has been amazing the years after. Living with a great family, a mother, a father, and two sisters, my par- ents worked to establish a point in our lives where we do not have to worry about our financial stability. My parents worked long, tedious hours at work to successfully pay for bills and food for the family. The fact that through hard work and dedication my parents were able to provide an amazing life for their family inspires me to do the same for my future family. 

© Alexander Ankum. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.