Day after day, Angie Morales faces the hardships of a single mother in a tough economic situation. One month, she doesn't know how she will pay for the shoes her eldest daughter needs. Another, she wages a telephone battle with a health insurance company that refuses to pay for her son's speech therapy. Recently, the fees for the kids' buses went up.
During the holiday season, the challenges are even bigger.
“I want to give them gifts, whatever they want, but I can't,” said the 30-year-old Morales. “I explain to them that it's not possible, and that's hard for them because they are children after all and they don't understand. But right now we have more important things to worry about.”
Her children — Luizanyi, 9, Tanyi, 8, and Ander, 5 — and Morales share a bedroom in her grandparents’ small Hialeah apartment. She is saving money to move to her own apartment, but meanwhile her salary is not enough to meet the family's needs.
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“We are jammed into the apartment, and that creates tensions. My grandparents are angels, but I know they prefer a calmer life,” said Morales, who works as a receptionist in a medical clinic and is studying nursing part-time. “That's why I can't take the money I put aside for the new apartment and spend it on something else.”
Her children would like to have a computer for homework and their own television, because the grandparents are always watching the one in the apartment.
Luizanyi is a timid girl, just 9 years old but almost six feet tall. As an el Nuevo Herald photographer drove the family to Meadowlane Elementary recently, she hid behind her sister and mother. Her little sister Tanyi pulled her by the hand when they walked.
“That's the way they are. The older one is shy and the little one is outgoing,” said a smiling Morales. “Luizanyi is sometimes bashful because she's already taller than I am. She's growing fast and needs new clothes and shoes very often.”
The Morales family was nominated for the Wish Book by Nayade Valbuena of the Mater Child Care Center in Hialeah, where Ander is enrolled.
“She has struggled a lot for her children. I always see her trying to give them the best that she can, but they need help,” said Valbuena. “They want to move to their own home, to be more comfortable. They need all the basic things for the house, like bedsheets, pillows, towels, wardrobes, microwaves, clothes for the kids. Anything they receive will be a blessing, because they are starting from zero.”
Ander's teachers said the boy, who lags in learning and speech, has progressed a lot in the past year, thanks in part to Morales. Because she could not afford more therapy sessions, she learned the procedures and has been teaching Ander at home.
“I set the goal that my son had to learn to speak well. Every time he pronounces a word correctly, it is a joy for him and a blessing for me,” she said.
But sometimes the day is just not long enough, said the mother, who works from 1 to 10 p.m. and sometimes later.
Morales said she has always worked hard to provide for her children and maintain a well-organized life. She even managed to do that after the father of the two girls died in the Dominican Republic, and then after the father of her son stopped regularly supporting him.
But two years ago she lost her regular job and like many others who live month to month, she had to abandon her apartment and studies. She moved in with her grandparents and sent her children to the Dominican Republic to stay with her mother for a year. She brought them back to Hialeah as soon as she found a new job.
“The worst for me was being far away from them,” Morales said. “That's why I want a stable life, for my children and for me.”
How to help: Wish Book is trying to help hundreds of families in need this year. To donate, pay securely at MiamiHerald.com/wishbook. To give via mobile phone, text WISH to 41444. For information, call 305-376-2906 or email wishbook @MiamiHerald.com. (Most requested items: laptops and tablets for school, furniture, accessible vans.) Read more at MiamiHerald.com/wishbook