She likes the name Iryne, so let her keep that name. Let me tell you about her.
She grew up in what we Americans would think of as grinding poverty. She knew real hunger. When life was good, the family would get rice and corned beef. She, her mom, her dad, and her nine siblings would have a small bowl of rice and *one* can of corned beef (sometimes it was Spam) shared among all of them…and her mom would always serve her dad half of the can. Sometimes her only meal was a small bowl of rice with a slice of banana. Sometimes it was a small bowl of rice with a sprinkle of salt. Sometimes it was nothing at all. There were times she went to bed but couldn’t sleep because of her hunger.
But you know what? She never felt sorry for herself, for at least she and her family had a home, and she knew many who had far less, and who were hungrier.
She came here to America on a tourist visa (it’s a long story) and got away from the tour group as soon as they got off the airport, leaving all her luggage behind. She met with the only person she knew in America, her brother-in-law (whom she barely knew) and was brought to a family in another city. The family allowed her to work and stay with them, and she didn’t see her brother-in-law for a long time after that. She knows she was very lucky, for she was never abused.
Imagine, if you will, going to another nation at the age of nineteen, with no money, knowing no one there except for one brother-in-law whom you’ve rarely seen, and striving to build a life for yourself…as an illegal immigrant. She did this and felt she had to, for the future of her family depended on her. That’s real courage. That’s bravery.
Some time passed and she was able to get a “real” job at McDonald’s. She was handed her very first paycheck (she was so proud of it at that moment), set it down to continue her work…and later found that someone had stolen it. She didn’t know she could have told the manager who could have stopped that check and issued her another one, so she continued to work with no money.
Time passed, and Iryne eventually went to work on a farm as an accountant. She knew many other illegal immigrants there from different nations (mostly Mexico), and she remembers how nice they were. It was…