Who I am?
I'm a 29 years old industrial engineer from Lima, Peru, specialized in planning yet struggling to make ends meet thanks toboth being severely underpaid and a crippling debt that I have for reasons beyond my control. This fundraiser's goal is to help me pay off that debt and regain some of the life I've missed for the last 7 years or so.
A small view of where I live, Vitarte.
Why do I need the money? (Short version)
Here's a small summary of why I'm asking for your help.
To make things short, I worked at day and studied at university at night all day long, during the past 10 years without resting to support my engineering career and family with a below-average income barely managing to scrape by, resulting in not enjoying my life as most people do during that age. I got delayed in my career a couple of times for reasons beyond my control that resulted in me not being able to afford my tuition, so to make sure I was able to finish without any more delays I had to take very big loans from many banks. Using some smart handling of my available financIal options I was able to finish my industrial engineering degree after 10 years, and while my debt was still 3 years away to be paid off I told myself that at least I could enjoy some free time as I wouldn't be studying anymore.
Sadly, destiny landed me a job as a production planning engineer in a textile plant. The problem? These guys work 72 hour weeks, from Monday to Saturday from 7:00 am to 7:00pm (sometimes even Sundays without resting meaning 14 or 21 consecutive days of work) and I often come home at 8:30 or 9:00 pm due to traffic, too tired to do anything to help my situation. Pay is also not enough for the work I do since they pay me only 1500 soles a month (around $420 USD) while my monthly debt fee ranges between 1200 and 1400 soles, barely able to make ends meet. Besides that, the work environment is the most stressful that I've ever been a part of, so sometimes I feel like can't stand it anymore.
So that's why I need your help, to be able to be free of my debt, to quit my job and to start to try enjoying the life I couldn't given the cards I was handed to. To raise a family, to have an spouse and kids, to be able to travel and to know this wonderful world we are all part of, I think that's what most of us are aiming for.
While I'm indebted, I mostly use borrowed or inherited things to live. These old sofa's belonged to my grandpa and have been a permanent part of my living room since about 8 years now.
The full story of my situation (long version)
Please, before you donate listen to my story first. It's quite a long story, so bear with me for a while
My early years
I was born in 1991, the first son of a loving young couple recently wed. Mom never finished her HHRR career for reasons I'll disclose later, and Dad never finished high school but was somewhat streetsmart. When I was a kid, I loved to do two things: to gaze at the few stars that showed up in Lima's eternal cloudy night sky, and to check out anatomy books. "I want to be a doctor when I grow up, I want to help people in need", I used to say. My grandparents noticed that and used to tell me that I had a great brilliant future ahead of me, either as an astronomer or a medic.
The terrace where I used to stargaze when I was a kid. It's still in the same state as when Dad abandoned us, and it has some of the construction materials he bought for building our second floor. I wish I had time to clean it and restore it to it's former glory.
Goodbye, dad, for a better future.
Around 1998, my brother was born. Mom didn't work to take care of us and Dad was the breadwinner of the house, but as he was a simple seller in a factory, our income was not enough to sustain all four of us. A year later, Dad got the idea of going abroad as an illegal immigrant to the United States crossing the Mexico border, under the pretense of sending us far more money to sustain us and to eventually bring us there when migratory politics got better. Later I would find out that he mostly did this to satisfy his own need for adventure and ego. And so, in 2000, he sucessfully entered American territory, leaving all three of us in Peru to wait for him to come back, sending periodical money to sustain us.
Meanwhile, I finished high school at 15. It was time of a career choice. Even if my entire family was sure I was going to be a doctor, I chickened out of it because of a very stupid (yet valuable for me at the time) reason: I wouldn't stand the fact that if I made a mistake, a human being that I was supposed to save would potentially lose his or her life. And so, after some guidance I opted for the more logical career choice in my mind, "that career that it's always on demand so you'll never be jobless or without money" as I was adviced: engineering. And so, around this time, Mom got a proper job in a government office (even if she earned the bare minimum wage) and then the 2007 Peru earthquake struck. It was quite a big one, and since it got him concerned about the safety of his kids, Dad announced he was coming back after 7 years. It was supposed to be a tearjerking reunion with him, but I noticed he was somewhat different from before. Dad got the same job he had back then again, a seller in the same factory.
A tearful reunion (for enterely different reasons)
After some unsucessful tries, I was admited on a college and I started my engineering classes in 2009. The college was not as expensive but still, after a few years we didn't have that much income to sustain it (we still had my brother's highschool to pay). I started working part-time just to pay for my classes; at 2011 I got my first job at a cinema, and started my lifestyle of working during the day/studying during the night. Around this time, the fights between my parents were becoming worse and worse, befitting of a couple that hadn't seen each other for 7 years. And later that year, we found Dad with another woman all lovey-dovey in a mall on a supposed Saturday he was working out of the city, the same mall all three of us went to buy some clothes. You may guess how that day ended. Dad left forever that day, instantly making those 7 years of waiting for him and the illusion of being a loving family again completely shattered. Since that day, I paid for my own studies and I resolved to eventually cut all my ties to him, and so I did. He lives with his own step-family nowadays. While he, at first, sent us money periodically for alimony, he eventually stopped doing so altogether thanks to losing his job due to age. I think he just drives a taxi nowadays to survive.
When Dad started fighting mom, he built a shoddily room on the terrace and moved there. That's the bed he bought for him. When he abandoned us, I moved here. Until this day I have lacked the resources to at least finish building it, and have to clean the dirt coming through the roof every day before I sleep.
Regardless any hardship life may present to me, I must keep moving forward.
By 2014, even although I had gotten another job in a bank call center, I couldn't afford to pay for an entire semester anymore thanks to the university raising it's monthly fee (as in, instead of paying for the 5 courses a normal 5-month period had, I could only afford 2 or 3) so during a few years I got fairly behind my career schedule, even dropping entire semesters altogether sometimes. At the time, the university was being reestructured and so everytime I could afford to came back to study I got 2 or 3 obligatory courses added to my career's course grid that I had to complete to keep advancing. Even if this set me back a few years, I didn't mind. I would finish my career.
Big risks for big rewards. I hope.
I quit my job in 2017 to start looking for job openings more related to my career, using the few savings I had to get by until then. I got hired by a Chinese associate of an exchange student I met in my classes who wanted some help with his small business. I took the job hoping to make some great money, but at the end I spent a year with them earning minimum wage. I only endured the job because it was near my university and I was often alone in the Chinese guy's office, so I used that time to do my assignments and to study. At this point, I had three semesters left, but I calculated that with minimum wage I wouldn't be able to finish my degree on time (risking to getting delayed again) unless I paid for them fully in advance. So I took a big risk and in January I took my first loan of around 8000 soles with the bank on a credit card I had gotten way back on my call center days, to be paid in 3 years. This loan was intended to pay for my three last semesters, with a fee I could afford at minimum wage. After all, Mom still had her job and her income went straight to food and bill expenses.
And then Mom got kicked out of her job, for not any reason in particular.
An unexpected happening, right near the finish line.
Goverment jobs are like that here. We didn't have any choice, and so I was obligated to use the loaned money of my future semesters to cover our income for about a year while Mom was unemployed, having difficulties to find any new jobs due to her age and her unfinished studies. I asked her then why she didn't finish: she told me her parents couldn't afford her tuition anymore and then I was born, sealing her fate forever. She tearfully asked me to don't repeat her own story, even if it wasn't her fault at all. With more resolve than ever I kept struggling juggling studying very hard courses (engineering is not easy, I tell ya) while working hard to keep moving forward. I came back home everyday around 11:30 pm but I didn't care at that point, after 8 years I was near the finish line and I wouldn't let a simple thing such as not having enough money stop me. I ran out of money when the second to last semester started around August, so I was forced to ask for another 4500 soles loan. The monthly fees then were barely an inch below what I was earning (I earned 850 soles and I had to pay 750) , but I didn't stop then either.
A last resort.
Mom got another job at the end of the year thanks to a familiar of hers, while I ran out of money by the time the last semester hit. Using what I learned while I was on the call center, I applied for a lower interest credit card, transfered the whole 3 years-planned debt to it basically restarting it to a more affordable monthly fee but dooming myself up till 2021. My contract with the Chinese guy ended in January 2019 so I was jobless again. Using the absolute last of money I had I paid the semester-signing fee of 400 soles (around 120 bucks) and did my enitre last semester without paying a single monthly fee, with Mom supporting me on paying the loans. Asking around I found out that not paying doesn't forbid you of going to classes but you must be cleared of all debt with the university before starting the new semester. So basically since this was my very last one I had to pass all the courses on the very first try without any chance of mistakes, otherwise I would not be able to afford a new semester or the bachelor's degree fee. This was the hardest thing I've done in my life because to be able to graduate I had to present a thesis. I did one based on the application of some lean manufacturing concepts in a non-manufacturing enviroment such as a call center. I devoted my whole unemployed time in my last semester to ace the last 5 courses I had left.
The golden ticket to be free appears! Or so it seems.
Around one week left before finishing my career, a friend I met in one of those classes got me a job in an actual plant. A textile plant, to be more precise. It would be my first real experience in my career's field so I took it instantly, with a 1350 soles salary. What I didn't know back then was the fact that they worked 72 hours a week (12-hours days) from Monday to Saturday, far more than what I was accostumed. I still took it because I thought it would be my golden chance to sucess after 10 years of hardships and having practically no life.
End of the long, long road.
I finished my semester sucessfully and was qualified for a bachelor's degree. I didn't have any more cash left and it was time to pay off my last semester, so, you guessed it, it was time for another loan! Took 4500 from the bank again to pay it in 2 years, setting it up so I absolutely be free of my entire debt (which was snowballing HARD at this point) by December 2021. You can see now why I specialize in planning. It's something I've been doing for the past decade just to survive.
I congratulated myself on finishing my degree. At last, I was supposed to be free of the "work all day, study all night" lifestyle I had adopted. I was finally be able to live life, and once I was debt free, I could finally, FINALLY do the things I should have done when I was in my early twenties like traveling, experiencing new things, and having any small semblance of a love life (I was basically friendless and dateless during these hellish years). That's what I hoped to do.
Oh right, the 72 hours a week job I'm now part of. Great.
40-work hours weeks are unheard of in Peru.
You know, at first I thought it wouldn't be that bad. I mean, it was the same work/study thing I've had been doing for all these years. And I got accostumed pretty quickly. But then, the small cracks in this idyllic vision I had started to show up. Our boss made us stay up til 8 or 9 pm somedays to "finish any last minute changes requested by our customers". Workers there like to work Sundays WITHOUT RESTING just because they need the cash, and unqualified personal is on positions that, welp, should be occupied by qualified personal, making the whole production process a mess.
At night, there's not a single soul on the street, and it's a highly dangerous people full of muggers or drugadicts. The later I finish my work, the more chances I have of being robbed.
This has been going for the last two years. On this last Wednesday, after my daily shouting and screaming session of "it was your fault and nobody else's" from the boss, I couldn't stand it anymore and went to the bathroom and cried. Not because I was shouted, but because the sudden realization hit me like a truck. My daily routine had become having 2 or 3-hour meetings (more like shouting sessions) with the boss, blaming me for mistakes that are never my fault, defending people that she knows personally instead of well qualified professionals, can never do my job on time because said meetings take time and I usually finish my job at 8 or 9pm, take a bus and reach it by 10:00 or 10:30 pm because the traffic in Lima is the third's worst in the whole world, try to take a shower IF the waterwork guys have not cut my water flow like they everyday at night, be to tired and devastated to be able to try do anything else, fall asleep and repeat ad infinitum.
A sudden realization.
All these hardships that I overcame for the last 10 years and that degree that I worked so hard for was for this. A completely unfair and unfitting reward that it's a result of Peru's own corrupt corporate practices. This is my life now.
And then I reflect back on that kid that used to gaze at the stars, that kid that used to read anatomy and science books, that kid that had dreams and goals. I used to be that kid. And I want to rescue him from the hole he's in.
A view of the night sky from the terrace. There are barely any stars in the sky now compared to before thanks to all the smog.
Well, that's my story. I can't leave my current job because I simply can't afford it, at least until I pay off my debt (I also owe around 1500 soles to them for the two months of quarantine they had and were paying me minimum wage when the pandemic started). Overall, I've calculated that my entire debt right now, between all of my loans, is about 9100 soles. Or 2500 bucks, I think. This is the ammount I need to be free, to be able to quit that job and to be able to finally start experiencing this wonderful, unique sensation called life. I haven't even mentioned the conditions that I live in because you would instantly want to send me EVEN more money, but that's an story for another day. Thanks for reading, and if you're interested in donating, feel free to do so. The amount is not that much, but to me it will mean the start of a new life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Proof of debt in one loan at the time of writing.
I fused three of four loans in a single credit card.
Proof of debt from another bank. This was the second loan I took back in 2018.
Both loans are intended to be paid fully by December 2021.The remaining amount asked corresponds to the paychecks I owe my current employer back from when we were quarantined in March 2020. The plant stopped but we received our basic paychecks anyway, I have to pay them before I'm able to quit.