Rhode Island Public Radio is doing a series on the state’s smallest city, Central Falls, and I was honored to be asked to contribute some pictures to their website. Not half as honored as I was to meet Yaritza Velazquez, the 17-year-old seen above. She and her family were nice enough to invite me and my camera in for an afternoon to observe (and I’m sure hinder, though she was too polite to ever say it) the teen mother as she cared for her daughter, Juliet.
Having a new person in the house taking pictures is an unusual experience for most people. Some of Yaritza’s (13) brothers and sisters were there and very excited- asking questions and playing for the camera, the way kids do. That energy in the house in turn, riled little Juliet a bit. And when her 4:45 bed time rolled around, mom had to lay down with her for a while. This is one of my final frames. I could have left an hour before this picture was taken but I’m glad I stuck around because I think it is one of the most telling. It’s quiet. Yaritza is quiet. I kept looking for her to text someone or do something that said ‘teenager’ for my camera but she never did. She acted like a mom. While her friends were talking on the sidewalk just outside her bedroom window and her brothers and sisters were running around the house Yaritza was laying down, feeding her 16-month-old.
At any rate, I hope Juliet knows someday how fortunate she is to have such a good mom and a caring family. I only spent an afternoon with them and I feel fortunate just to have been let in the door to take pictures.