It was after their father died that Luis and Juana’s mother started drinking. At first it was only in the evenings. Pretty soon she was drunk all the time, calling them names and telling them she had never wanted kids to begin with, and that they had ruined her life. As the older brother, Luis felt it was his job to try and keep peace in the home. He tried to calm his mother and talk some sense into her. When that didn’t work, he gave up and went to go live at his grandmother’s house where it was quiet.

But when he found out that the name-calling had now turned into hitting and shoving, Luis returned home to try and protect his sister. The drunken binges and abuse only got worse, and after one very bad night, Luis and Juana packed up their clothes and left together – Luis to his grandmother’s house, Juana to the couch of a friend. Realizing that they now had only each other to depend on, Luis and Juana sought out help from a YOTO School Liaison. Since joining Youth On Their Own, both kids are regaining the confidence they’d lost, and their grades show it. The monthly stipend helps take the edge off of their poverty. Luis and Juana are on track to graduate together this year.