“I Am A Poor Boy”: A., a 16 year-old boy, writes about life behind the numbers
“I divide each burekas into three”
Disconnected electricity, torn clothing and sleeping with shoes in the winter: That’s what the life of every third child in Israel looks like
Below the Poverty Line
Every Monday and Thursday, I hear my mother crying because someone else has yelled at her that she owes him money. She tries to hide her tears, with no success. I always see my mother approaching people and begging them for a few pennies. I’m just a 16-year old, and have not yet gotten to know the world, and sometimes I ask myself, what have I done wrong?
I grew up in central Israel, we are five brothers and I am the youngest. All of us, except for my oldest brother, live at home with our mother. My father died five years ago and my mother lives off an allowance. The Chasdei Naomi Association helps us with vegetables and food as much as possible and my mother makes sure that there is food on the table. For example, we received two burekas, and divided each one into three, so that everyone could have a taste.
Several times our electricity was disconnected, or I opened the faucet and there was no water. Every month, we receive threats that we will be disconnected. My mother is always afraid that something will happen and we will be thrown out on the street. It’s not an easy feeling, I want to leave school and go to work, but my mother doesn’t allow me to.
When my friends want to go out to a restaurant, I say I can’t and make up excuses. Children can really be mean. Once I received a hoodie with a hole, one of the kids laughed at me and asked me why I was wearing a torn hoodie. Once I came to school with the same shirt and the principal asked me why I hadn’t changed my shirt. I explained to him that I had no choice – that was all I had. In the winter, when it’s cold and there is no money for heat, we sometimes wear four shirts in order to warm up, and sometimes I sleep with shoes because it keeps me warm.
The hardest thing for me is that dreams do not come true. Perhaps one day, when I go to work, I will be able to realize my dreams. I’d really like a Smartphone like everyone has. I have a really ancient phone and I’d really like a serious phone, like an iPhone, like everyone has, but I know it is impossible now.
If I had money, I’d like to help my mother buy a home. My mother always says that when you have a home you have everything. I really hope that when I grow up, my situation will be different.
35% of children in Israel are poor.