By Mauricio Rosas, Mi Valedor vendor
I grew up in Colonia Morelos, Mexico. My father always worked very hard to give us what we needed and taught us to keep our shoes clean. I first smoked marijuana when I was 13 years old and I got drunk for the first time when I was 15. The alcohol made everything worse. My use of psychotropic drugs continued, my use of cocaine continued… With the marijuana and the pills, I still managed to get out to work, but when I started drinking alcohol heavily, it was as if I forgot about everything else. When can’t afford to buy brand name alcohol, you have to switch to cheaper alcohol – and that changes you. If you buy a litre of cheap alcohol, such as Tonayan, it drives you crazy. It becomes a disease.
I have a lot of different jobs: I know how to make pies, pizza, biscuits and hamburgers. I’m also an electrician and I sell several newspapers. The first time I was invited to come along to Mi Valedor I thought, “What for?” but, at the same time, I wanted to get better. Alcohol used to give me a boost, but now it gets me down. I like to fit right in, and I was pretty depressed and smelling bad from being on the streets. When I arrived at the magazine, I realized that I needed to get better. At Mi Valedor they greet you, offer you coffee, biscuits and everything is great.
I feel like I’m with family here. I used to be lying around, and now I am “the voice of the street” on the radio. I haven’t had a drink since 31st August. It’s been easy because I’m in a shelter and I’m separated from places where you can drink. Right now, all I want to do is throw myself into living because, in many ways, you could say that I was dead before. I want to rent a little room and live quietly there. I’m not ruling out being married to some good woman in the future. I’m not ruling it out.
I have been very distant from my family because you are locked in a micro world when you are on the street, but when I came here my brother started talking to me again. Looking back, my message would be that, if you are in a situation where you end up on the streets, seek help. But don’t just look for a quick fix to the situation: look for a better alternative. Life on the street is not real life. It’s like hell.
Translated from Spanish by Louise Wilson