45.5 Percent: Impoverished Without Education

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I was born in Mexico City and lived there until I was seven years old before moving to the United States. My house in Mexico was located in a decently nice area. I went to a Jewish Day School during the day and played soccer in a Jewish Community Center during the afternoons. Despite living in a country that had an astonishing poverty rate of 45.5 percent, my daily routine shielded me from noticing it. The only exposure I had to the devastating poverty were the disheveled homes on the side of the road – homes that were built from almost nothing. Despite my limited exposure to poverty as a child, a recent visit to Mexico opened my eyes. This past year, I was in Mexico visiting my extended family. As we were driving to my grandma’s house, we stopped at a light. I turned to my right and saw a boy that was selling candy bars to cars that were halted by the light. From his stature and clearly malnourished body, he seemed to be eight years old. His deep brown eyes, scarred face, and pre-pubescent moustache suggested he was more like twelve. The child had a look in his brown eyes that suggested a stunted childhood, dwarfed by the need to work to support his family and himself. It weren’t his physical characteristics that really struck me, but rather the object he was carrying on his back. It was noon, on a Wednesday, and this little boy was …