By Erasmo Navarrete, Mi Valedor
I was born in the Argentine Colony, in Tacuba. I was the fifth child in a family of 11 siblings. Although our mother was illiterate, she had life knowledge and she passed this on to me and taught me who I should be. I wanted to leave home at 13 because I didn’t want to be lazy. My father left us, and I had to work to buy bread or a kilo of tortillas. However, I liked hanging about and I eventually I became an alcoholic with the friends I’d met at school or on the streets. I was somebody who didn’t have a voice; I wasn’t worth anything.
Despite alcoholism, I have always been somebody who enjoys working. My mother told me that “slackers and thieves only live in prison. You have to be honest with yourself and with others.” I’ve done many jobs: I was a plumber, a blacksmith, a bricklayer, a mechanic. Yes! I have a thousand uses! Sometimes, however, I was taken advantage of and I said, “This is no good for me.” Who I am is important to me. I work with honesty and I show this through my actions.
Now I have huge support from those at Mi Valedor. I share my experiences, and my way of being and thinking with them. My friend Pancho sent me a message and then I came upon Mi Valedor. It saddened me when people told me to “take a bath”, but I was motivated by my circumstances. So now I thank the people who said this to me because these are the things that pushed me to live. If somebody helps me, I don’t think I’m doing too badly.
This is why working with Mi Valedor is good for me. They are giving me a job and I have mental and physical stimulation to stop me from drinking and being lazy. The other day, I met my very troubled friends, some of whom are alcoholics, and they invited me to drink. I didn’t want to! I took some of the money I’d earned from Mi Valedor and bought myself bread and a litre of milk instead – this is a change!
I want to thank those who have helped me and supported me. I’m 64 years old. I like doing social work for the community. I enjoy it. We have to want to work and to live during the life that God gives us, and not rely on alcohol. The issue is to try and get ahead, not get stuck and to find another way of living.
Translated from Spanish by Amy Merson