This wasn’t a boy trying to earn money for a toy. He was trying to earn enough money to buy food for his entire family. How could one little boy hold up under that kind of pressure?
One of Carlos’ earliest memories is eating an egg for lunch. Or rather, half of an egg.
“There were 18 people living in my home when I was growing up,” says Carlos. “There was never enough to eat. My mother would try to make sure we got protein. So I would have half an egg for lunch. And the other half would be my dinner.”
Even though Carlos was the youngest in the family, he felt the pressure of trying to help his mother. His father was an alcoholic and was rarely able to provide for the family. When his father died, Carlos did the only thing he knew to do.
“I worked many jobs as a child, starting when I was just 5,” says Carlos. “I shined shoes. I gathered bundles of sticks to sell in the market. All so I could buy some food to bring home.”
Carlos was just 8 when he was hired by a neighbor to dye thread. The chemicals he worked with were dangerous, eating through the metal cans he dipped the thread into. But Carlos was glad for the work, for the income.
Carlos begged his mother to let him drop out of school. Just think of all the money he could bring home if he worked a full eight hours a day! But she kept telling him no. That education was more important. Even when her older sons told her it was a waste of time to send little Carlos to school, she held fast.
It was that same perseverance that led Carlos’ mother to the Compassion center in their community. She had heard it was a place that could provide the one thing she had never been able to — a childhood.
When Carlos first arrived at the church, he thought it was another job. He looked around, wondering if there was something he could clean or repair. When his mother explained that this was a place he would come to after school, Carlos was frustrated. How would he be able to work? Who would help his mother now?
But then, Carlos started getting hugs. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a hug. His mother was too busy. His brothers were preoccupied. But at the Compassion center, he couldn’t get enough of them!