Fighting for a Future

May 31, 2013
By Olivia Maurer BRONZE, Park Ridge, Illinois
Olivia Maurer BRONZE, Park Ridge, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Fighting for a Future

Olivia Maurer


My grandmother has always been the most influential person in my life. She pushes me to strive in school, be active, and be appreciative for everything I have. Lidia Buitron is the strongest person I know and in every action and choice I make, I always hope to make her proud. She has been through so much and pushes me to fight for her, as she fought for a future for her family.

I, Lidia Buitron, was born on September 30, 1937 in the mountains of Calacali, Ecuador. I lived with my 3 sisters, 4 brothers, and my parents on our block worth of land. We owned pigs and chickens at home, and in a small farm, higher in the mountains, we had horses and cows. Every morning my father would wake me up and carry me up to the farm, to help him milk the cows. Since I was eight years old, I also had to cook for everyone in my family. Usually I would make rice, morocho, cabbage, chicken, and much more. On Saturday and Sunday I would have the responsibility to take my family’s laundry to the river and wash it.

School in the mountains of Calacali only went up until sixth grade, and there were only about twenty people in each grade. Although I was always the smallest, I was the smartest. I remember one day, I stayed home from school, because I kept getting nosebleeds. This happened to be the day that the board of education was coming to inspect the school. My teacher ran all the way to my house and carried me back to school because I was the only student in her class that would make her look good. She later recommended me to go to the secondary school in the city of Quito, which was very rare for our town. I was so excited that I had to ask my father right away, and when I did he said, “I only went to school until third grade and did fine, so now that you went to sixth grade, you’re a doctor!” Although I was a little disappointed, I knew I had to go to work to help my family.

A few months after school ended, I moved to Quito and started working for a family that had a baby boy. Because I had lived in the mountains, I grew up speaking a mix of Quechua and Spanish which was more indigenous. Here in the city, was pure Spanish, so as I worked for this family, I was learning a whole new language. I lived with them for a year, taking care of the baby, cleaning, and helping to cook. My family came to visit the house when they could, but it was mostly my mother who would come frequently. When I was not needed here anymore, I began working for a white woman, who was a baker, whom I helped clean, garden, and bake. Her cakes were so delicious, and she would give me all of the leftovers I could possibly dream of. While working for this woman, my mother came to the city and opened up a little store. I did not like working there though, because my sister was bossy and thought she owned the place. I couldn’t stand to work at the store for more than a month.

Until I was 20 years old, I remember working in a total of three houses. After this, I was made to marry a man named Umberto, my late sister’s husband. When I was working at my final house in the city, Umberto’s children came to visit me; they begged me to come be their mother. Eventually, the children convinced me, so Umberto paid a dowry to my family and proposed. We were married in November and I went to live in the countryside with them. We later had two sons, four years apart, adding on to Umberto’s 3 boys and 4 girls from his marriage to my sister. Umberto promised me that he would let the children be educated when we had first gotten engaged, but as sixth grade ended for each child, he made them work on the land. As years went on, our marriage changed. The children all became disrespectful towards me, and as Umberto started drinking more, he did as well.

The night of our wedding anniversary, while Umberto was out drinking, I took my sons Luis and Edwin and ran away. Louis was only five years old and very sick, while Edwin was a year and a half, being carried on my back. We walked for two hours until we finally found a house. Unfortunately, these people were friends with Umberto and told me they couldn’t help us because they didn’t want any trouble with him. They told me that all I could do is go to the river and wait for a car to come, so we could hitch a ride to the city. By this time Rodrigo, the seven year old son of Umberto, was sent out to find me and was successful. I told him to come to the city with me and as a seven year old, he went along and got in the car.

I stayed at a friend's house in Quito that night, and in the morning went to church with my sons to pray for God’s help. The oldest daughter of Umberto found me, and followed me to the church. She apologized for her and her father’s behavior and offered to take Edwin to buy some shoes, little did I know, she had planned to take Edwin back to the mountains with her. Umberto would not give Edwin back, so I was forced to take legal action. This was difficult, because Umberto was friends with all of the police in the city and finally after 3 months, I won the custody of my sons and went to stay with my sister Bertita. I had become very ill from all of her nerves and stress I had obtained from fighting for the custody of my sons. Bertita had taken good care of me, and by May 8th of the following year, I was off to the United States.

I had to leave my sons behind with my sister, but knew she would take good care of them. I then took a flight from Quito to Chicago, with a stop in Miami, and right away residency cards needed to be filled out. I went to live in an apartment with my brother, Carlitos. He was the first of my family to leave Ecuador for the United States. Everything moved so quickly here, I applied for a social security card, and began to work as soon as I received it. I worked for Zenith Corporations, an electronics company, and after a year, I had saved enough money to bring Louis and Edwin to America just in time to start school at Prescott that fall.

After five years at Zenith, I moved on to making pinball machines for Chicago Dynamics. Later I got pregnant with my first and only daughter, Sophia. By the time she arrived, I had then saved enough money for an apartment on Wayne in the city. After a few years, my family and I moved to the projects, where we lived for eight years.

In all of my time in the United States, I had saved up and worked hard to build up a life for my family. I worked three jobs at one time, and with my intelligence I was able to save up and buy a building that contained three apartments.

Lidia Buitron is one of the strongest women anyone could ever know. She is an inspiration and the greatest example of hard work. Today, she is seventy-five years old and the grandmother of four. She still works hard to give her family everything she can, and all she asks in return is for them to be successful in school. Still to this day she says "Opportunities will always be greater in the United States."

The author's comments:
This is the story of my grandmother. She inspires me everyday and I want people to know her story and know to never give up.

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