I wanted to learn more about Lavie the minute I met her. Twenty years old, black, and visibly scarred on her forehead, Lavie’s appearance belies her incredible spirit.

Since she doesn’t have a car she asked if we could meet her at her place. Mondays are her day off from her G.E.D. program, she said. And she would prefer to not have to take the two-hour bus ride each way if it was all right with me.

Lavie’s apartment was threadbare. There were two pieces of furniture: a couch in the living room without back cushions and a mattress on the floor of her bedroom. I asked her where I could throw away my empty Starbucks cup, and she said there was a box in the kitchen I could put it in. “Sorry I don’t have a proper garbage can.”

 

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