Destiny's Children: A Legacy of War and Gangs

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Carlos and Ivonne’s story, part 2

Carlos and Ivonne were both from El Salvador, but they found each other on the streets of Los Angeles. He was seventeen years old and she was fifteen years old when they fell in love. Ivonne dreamed of a life far from the strict Mormon aunt who forced her to work as a domestic servant. With Carlos she thought she had found her dream.

When their baby Andrea was born a year after they met, they were happy. They thought their life together was nearly perfect.

Carlos and Ivonne find out that having a baby changes everything. They worry about keeping Andrea safe in the barrio where they live. Neither Carlos nor Ivonne finished school. It is hard to find work. Money problems make it hard for them to appreciate each other.

Carlos scans the streets with his binoculars to look for enemy gangs before he and his girlfriend Ivonne and baby Andrea leave their apartment.

For a time Ivonne was paid by a bar to dance and drink with lonely men. Because she was only sixteen she carried a false identity card to protect the bar owner from problems with the police for hiring minors.

Each drink that a man buys for her has a ticket she saves. At the end of the week she cashes them. She gets paid $2.00 for each drink bought for her.

Carlos feels jealous of the men at the bar where Ivonne works. Even more he feels angry and ashamed that he can’t provide enough for his family. He tries every kind of job he can think of so that Ivonne won’t have to do this work.

When a construction job ends Carlos sells heroin for a living. He says, “At least I’m working, not collecting government welfare.”

Carlos and Ivonne have been fighting a lot over money. Ivonne wants him to leave the gang. Finally when Carlos succeeds in finding work driving a taxi, he persuades Ivonne he will take care of her and Andrea. They reconcile and decide to try to continue to live together as a family.