After finishing up a photo shoot in the Bronx River Park I was making my way to the subway when I saw a woman selling water at the intersection. Smart idea. It was hot and humid and I stopped to buy a bottle. And then like always, out came the story and out came my camera.
I had to ask if she was really making any money sitting there in the sweltering heat. Turns out, she can make between $200-600 depending on the day and I guess the temperature. "I only do this in the summer. I'm a teacher during the school year. " (sad side note here: I am fairly certain she is making more money per hour selling water than most teachers earn during the school year.) And being a single mother with four children she needs a summer job.
At 12 Ana was pregnant. Spoiler alert! There is a happy ending.
She needed an escape, her father was an alcoholic and her older brother's beat her and her safety net from the beatings was a boyfriend. His grandmother lived in an apartment downstairs and she spent a lot of time there." When my mother found out I was pregnant, she threatened my life" recalled Ana, "And she refused to let me have an abortion - and I would have." Her daughter is now 21. "I kept going to school even while I was pregnant. There was a daycare at my high school, but after a while I couldn't take it so I quit." Ana got a job at McDonald's and her GED through associates.
This is a list of jobs that she has had; McDonald's, Volunteer office at Jacobe, Patient relations at North Central Hospital, Jeans Plus, Intern at the career services at Monroe College, Hospitality at Monroe College, medical billing at an Optometrist's office. Six years after she had her first child she had another. But as Ana puts it "I pulled through." While working all those jobs and raising two children, Ana got a bachelor's degree in Business. And then, while working as a dialysis technician she completed her Masters in Education. She teaches 2nd grade at ICAR charter school and is a TA for ELA to help mediate reading. "I know," she said, "I beat the statistics."