Living With Low Wages And High Hopes

February 12, 2016 by Fabiola Johnson
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Karina and her children in front of their Amor housePhoto by Jamie Netherland

Karina lives with her husband and three children in the community Rojo Gomez in Tijuana. This is her story.

I only finished high-school. I came to Tijuana when I was 17 years old searching for a better job than the ones available in my hometown in Sinaloa.

In those days, you could find jobs that paid very well. Today’s salaries are a misery. Even with my husband’s education, he only makes 2,300 pesos [$126] a week, and we can’t even cover our basic expenses.

My husband and I met at the Panasonic factory, building portable tvs. We dated for six months and then got married. He’s been a great partner for me. We understand each other. We are so close that we often have those moments of reading each other’s minds. It seems like I’m always anticipating his needs and he mine. We’ve been together for 16 years, and we couldn’t be happier.

My daughter Kimberly is in Middle School. She wants to study graphic design, but, for now, we are focusing on her high school. Books in high school get very expensive. Some go as high as 1000 pesos unless you find used ones, and every semester is about 2800 pesos. She hopes to get into the high school in Otay, which means she would have to leave the house around 5 a.m. to get there on time. If she’s willing to make the sacrifice, so will we. She deserves all the sacrifices we make for her to go to school.

My boys don’t enjoy school. My youngest son’s teacher suspects he has a learning disability, so we will take him to a local clinic that helped my daughter when she had some problems learning to read. Now she loves to read so much that you’ll see her with a book in her hands all the time. Her teacher gave her five books and proudly pronounced that she would start her personal library.

Families are always moving away seeking better opportunities. Sometimes they are forced to move out when the owner increases the rent. That’s why, for me and my husband, it became necessary to buy our own plot of land and build a home in it. Although we are still making monthly payments on the land, we know they won’t change.

Our Amor house has been a blessing. I suffer from Asthma and in the afternoons, it starts bothering me with the cold weather, so having a warm house has helped. My husband jokes that he feels he’s sleeping with a cat because my chest will purr all night. Our boys don’t have to share a room with their sister, and they are now comfortable and warm. My son also has space to do homework without distractions which I’ve noticed has helped him to stay focused. Now, if we could only make him love school...

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Topics: Family Stories

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