Photographer:  Jack Strutz

Photographer: Jack Strutz

Meet Mekides, a mother of 1 from Ethiopia who is currently attending college for early childhood development.  

Read on to discover how!

Let's start with, what is your story and how did you end up at Alexandria House?
When my mom and I came to the United States, my mom died five years ago. So when I had a baby, I couldn't pay rent. I tell my doctor that I can't rent a house or apartment anymore, so she said she would find me somewhere.

So she found me some white people's, and I've lived over there like six months, working here, volunteering. The girl, she brings me here to tell Judy, that she didn't want me to stay long term. Judy says, okay, I'll let you know when someone is moving. 

One lady, she got into section 8 and she moved. So I came.

How long have you been here?
One month. 

Do you like it here?
Yes, because where I'm living before, it's not the same language. We're not talking a lot. When the baby came, the white people didn't talk to me.

They'd be like, Mekides come down here and eat. I eat and go back to my room. They didn't talk to me, when I tell I can't speak English, they're scared to talk to me, because I don't have English so I can't speak.

Photographer:  Marissa Boswell

Photographer: Marissa Boswell

When I came here, 2 days I'm not downstairs. I'm in my room, Maria and Tera came and say, "Mekides, what happened? Why are you in your room alone? Come down and eat lunch."

I said okay, but I'm scared.

They say, why are you scared? You have a baby, we love her. Come downstairs and play with us. 

I said, okay. From there, I ate lunch and dinner with them. 

Here is good for me. I'm so happy. I am talking a lot and coming downstairs to be with everyone. 

Where are you from originally?

Are you currently employed?
Before I'm working, at an Ethiopian restaurant. But after the baby came, I'm not working. I am currently on Food Stamos.

Do you have a dream job?
Yeah, that's why I am going to college to train in Child Development. 

I have a baby, when she grows up or asks me some homework thing or needs some money, I need a good job to provide.

Right now, I'm taking English and Math. Math is good! English is not good, because she not pass me because I need some more English. Summer, I'm not going to college, but I'm going full time in the fall. 

Photographer:  Marissa Boswell

Photographer: Marissa Boswell

Photographer:  Marissa Boswell

Photographer: Marissa Boswell

What makes you feel safe?
I am thinking this is my house, they're living here, this is not my house. I'm living like two years and then going on section 8, but I'm not thinking like that. I clean the restroom and the house.

They say, Mekides, why are you cleaning? This is not your house?

Nope, this is my house. Where I'm living is my house. I am comfortable when I am living here. 

I have a 10 o clock curfew. Before my curfew, I am hanging out here or going to a sister house. 

What are you grateful for? 
Before my daughter, I'm working, but the man is gone to party on Friday and Saturday.
Now, thanks to god, he gives me a steady life. Now, life is long is for me because my daughter is here with me. I think God gives it to me some living.

What empowers you/makes you feel strong?
I think strong, because before I'm losing, but I don't care, I'm not strong. 
I was with my mom, but then she passed away and I realized I wasn't strong. 
My strength is in my journey. I don't have stress, I don't like stress. 
I dance it away, with the music, or I come downstairs and speak with someone and the stress is gone.
I am strong. I like people that is loving. I am strong. 

Photographer:  Marissa Boswell

Photographer: Marissa Boswell