Photo by Jamie Netherland
I first met Mr. Maltos while Jamie Netherland, a photographer who volunteered to come with Amor, and I were touring Tijuana. Happy to see us, he allowed us to take some pictures of him and his children (who had just arrived in a taxi, unbeknownst to me, driven by his wife).
When I returned for an interview, he was in the middle of working on his taxi with his eldest son. Mr. Maltos and I talked while the rest of his children, still on winter vacation, joined us with curious eyes
“I was born in Michoacan, a Mexican State in the south, but arrived in Tijuana with my family when I was in 5th grade”, he explained. “My mom took me to enroll in the local school, but it was overcrowded so they wouldn’t register me, so I ended up dropping out of school altogether and began working.” A few years later, at age 15, he met his wife, also age 15, and they have been together ever since - 16 years. His wife managed to go to school until the 9th grade, but she too, did not finish.
Eventually, Mr. Maltos started driving a taxi and years later bought a car and started his own taxi business. After saving everything they could, the couple purchased a plot of land where they built a simple house of refuse materials and old garage doors.
They were still living in that first home with their four children when, in early 2015, Mr. Maltos' wife reached out to one of the Pastors of our Ministry Planning Board in Mexico. Pastor Fausto saw that the roof of their house had become in disrepair, putting the family in jeopardy with every rain. “It would cost us 1000 pesos to repair it temporarily”, he said. And even if they did repair it, that would not solve their long-term problem of not having enough room for all of them.
"Every time it rained, everything would get wet inside. Even when it stopped raining outside, the water would pool on the top, and it kept raining inside”, he said, reminiscing. “My wife finally decided to ask Pastor Fausto for help and then organized the papers so we could get the [Amor] home." That home was completed last April by a group with Community Presbyterian Church in Danville, California.
The oldest child, age 11, enjoys spending time with his dad, fixing up their taxi. He’s in 4th grade and attends school but doesn’t really like it. His father reminds him of the sacrifice the family is making to ensure he and all his siblings have an education.
Since the family received their Amor home, Mr. Maltos' wife also began driving a taxi leasing someone else’s car. "She said she wanted to contribute financially to the home. We want to finish the inside of the new house, but we just couldn't save enough money. Everything is getting more expensive, and the dollar keeps going up." Despite working long hours every day, the couple’s weekly income is just 3000 pesos [$167.69].
Mr. Maltos and his wife work opposite shifts so they can still watch over their four children who range from age 4 to 11. "Sometimes the children have to stay by themselves”, Mr. Maltos pointed out, “but most of the time I'm here during the day. On the weekends and holidays, the children stay with my mom because we are gone most of the day."
In closing our interview, Mr. Maltos explained humbly, "The only thing I ask for this year is that God keeps us in good health.”.