This week I met Anthony. I didn’t meet him at the hospital or clinic, but beachside as I enjoyed a cold Corona and delicious seafood paella. Although it was August, Anthony was selling heart-shaped Valentine’s Day-themed lollipops. I watched him go to each dining table one by one, only to be rejected what seemed to be nine out of ten times. When he reached my table, instead of just buying the lollipop for 25 cents, I asked if he was hungry and would like to join us for dinner. He was shy at first and politely declined the invitation, but eventually sat down and joined me after I said the food was entirely way too much for me to eat on my own.
I learned that Anthony is fourteen years old, lives with his mother and grandmother, and doesn’t know much about his father. I learned that he works twelve-hour days, from 9 am to 9 pm. I learned that he makes on average four USD a day, two-thirds of which goes to his family. I learned that right now he’s working a little extra because he has to buy school supplies since classes will begin shortly.
I learned that Anthony doesn’t want to sell lollipops his whole life. When I asked what he wanted to study when he grows up, he said dentistry and possibly photography. I encouraged him to follow his dreams and told him I was proud of him. In this short meal, I not only learned that Anthony was hungry but too shy to admit it, but I also learned about his life and personal struggles. He reminded me of the times when I myself went door-to-door asking people if I could cut their yard for a few bucks, as I needed new shoes before school started and this was my only option. I was also fourteen. Anthony is another constant reminder to value what I have. I hope everything works out for him.