Encounters: “I have been so blessed…”

encounters 20sept geneva

About the Encounter

I had my first baby when I was thirteen, and my mother died when I was thirteen. I’ve been through a lot in my life, but when my faith is not consistent, that’s when I start getting all those crazy thoughts, like “Oh, my life, my life…”

Now that I’m a little bit older, and my faith is really stronger, I don’t get those depressing moments. I might get a little down because I had no confidence when I wanted to, but when I sit down and think about my life from when I was a little girl to now, I have been so blessed, and I never saw it until this age.

Everything is good. I’m rich in my life with my family and my kids, but with my finances, I feel so poor. I just struggle, struggle, struggle with my bills and my rent. I just moved into this beautiful building. I have a beautiful three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment. You know what, you always find yourself thinking it’s not enough. Coming from being homeless, you would think that with three bedrooms, I would be feeling on top of the world. But sometimes even there, I get a little down, because the rent is so high for it to be low-income housing.

When my baby turned five and went to school, I was like, “What do I do now? From early in the morning to three in the afternoon, what do I do?” And I said, “What do I know how to do? Well, I just raised ten kids. And it’s taking care of people. I’m going to take care of the elderly and the sick.” As a home health aide, I like the patients that really need your care. People that can go out, they just need a companion. They’re mobile, they cook, they wash; they just want someone there to keep them company and help them do that. They want to go out. Unless they’re really sickly–then they send you out to go to the supermarkets and do laundry, stuff like that. I don’t mind. I’m a mother of ten, I did that stuff all my life.

My kids are grown now. We were always a very close-knit family, so what I didn’t do, the older ones did. And what I didn’t have, they older ones bought. So I didn’t have a hard life, raising them. They did a lot for me, and that’s why I love all of my kids. I always said, “The one thing I want from you is a high school diploma.” Because I got pregnant at thirteen. I tried my best, I went to the education programs, but I never could finish, because I had too much responsibility as a parent.

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About the Encounters Project

The Encounters Project began in the summer of 2017 as a collaboration between Pulse visuals editor Sara Kohrt and two medical students from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Kristen Lee and Erin McCoy. The three photographed and interviewed patients who attend a family health center in the Bronx. Patients were asked to talk about their healthcare experiences, to share stories about their lives outside the clinic walls and to reflect on how these two worlds affect each other.

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