At the age of 12, Oscar had to leave school and work full time in a Chinese owned clothing factory. Work was defined as 10 hour days with few breaks and very little pay. The pay went to help support his family which lived in a small block house with a tin roof and dirt floor. There was electricity for a couple of light bulbs w. A wood fire stove was on the exterior. Mom and dad slept in one bed. Oscar and his 3 siblings shared another. The bathroom facilities were several doors down and were shared by a number of families in their quad.
Oscar didn’t complain about his job. Jobs were hard to find. He was happy to be able to help support his family. It was his duty. The work was hard and there were no margins for error. The Chinese ran a very strict business. One mistake and a worker was fired.
Besides his work, Oscar also brought in a couple dollars a month through a child sponsorship program in the United States. The family received food, medicine and opportunities for education. Oscar had the privilege to meet his sponsor family several times since he was a young child. The visits were a highlight of his year and he looked forward to them every time.
He received word one day that his family was coming again and would like to visit. Time was limited and he would need to ask off work. The answer to his request was an absolute “no”. There was no option in taking off and if he did he would be fired. The sponsorship family heard this and were distraught over Oscar losing his job for a short one hour visit.
Oscar, however, did not need to question the decision. He would find another job someway. He would not, under any circumstance, miss his opportunity to meet his family from the U.S. It was an honor for him to meet, but the greater honor was shared by his foreign family that saw the reflection of their love in this young boy.
Oscar turned 18 this year and has left the program. He is still trying to complete his education. Both he, and his sponsorship family are hoping for one more visit before they lose contact with each other.