Sharing Secrets-003

Guatemala, 2001
Pregnant at age 13 with no family, ÒRoxanaÓ began working in a brothel saloon to support herself and her baby.
Copyright © Donna De Cesare, 2001

“My mother gave me away to a se–ora when I was a year old. The se–ora took good care of me. I stayed with the se–ora till I was 10. She died. Then I was all alone. I tried to go back to my mother but she treated me bad, so I looked at the buses one day and got on one that said Chimaltenango. I didn’t know anyone there, but I decided to go far away to find work.

At first I worked in a restaurant washing dishes. Later in houses washing clothes. Then when I was 12 I met an older man who wanted to hug me. He said he would take care of me. He became my husband. But after 4 months with him I was pregnant and he left me.

That is when I came here to work. I knew this place because I would pass it sometimes. The se–ora here was kind and she let me come to work. She is indigenous too and she gives me advice. She pays me Q300 ($38.00) a month. I used to make only Q100 ($12.00) a month washing clothes.

Often I think I want to leave this life. Some men are abusive; others are kind or sad. No one stays. But leaving this life is difficult. I only studied to first grade and now I need to buy milk for my baby. He’s 6 months and eats a lot. The baby milk is very expensive.

In the beginning I thought I would give my baby away. But then I thought–I don’t want to give my son away like my mother gave me away. I knew he would always be sad thinking of that. I don’t have any dreams really. Well to marry and have a happy family, but I don’t think that will happen now. “