The Chicago Star

March 2, 2015 By: Rylee Huie

A Look into the Life of the Rivers'

Lafayette and Pharaoh are two young boys in a family of 10. The Rivers family live in the inner city of Chicago. Most would refer to their home as The Projects. Where the boys live is mainly controlled by gangs. The sound of a gun firing is well known to Lafayette and Pharaoh. Seeing their friends or classmates work for gangs is nothing unusual as well. The family lives in the Henry Horner Apartments. Throughout their lives the boys witnessed multiple deaths, shootings, gang fights, and arrests. Throughout their childhood the boys witnessed a lot of their family members fall short of LaJoe Rivers expectations due to bad choices. Their dad became a drug addict, their brother Terrance was arrested multiple times, and none of their older siblings graduated. Along with experiencing family issues, the two boys lost a lot of their friends due to gang related acts. Lafayette even lost a friend due to an unreasonable shooting by a cop. The family also continuously struggled with money. Today, the boys are both in school and on the road to graduation. Lafayette is trying his best and Pharaoh is excelling everyday. The CHA has improved the apartments that the boys live in and the gang related activity has slowed down.

The Reality of Living in "The Projects"

Living in the projects is not easy for most people. LaJoe Rivers, the mother, relied solely on Federal Aid such as food stamps and welfare. LaJoe searched for jobs multiple times throughout the boys childhood. The only thing LaJoe was able to do for extra money was play cards, which kept her away from her family. Without having a sufficient amount of money, the living quarters of the Rivers' was not good. At one point, LaJoe had too many people to count on both hands living with her. The basement of the apartment went untouched. There were dead animals down there, feces, and many other things that were unknown to the residents. The apartment had a leaky roof, missing appliances, and for those who had appliances they were not working properly. Outside of the apartment, there is not much to be accounted for. Close by is the Chicago Bulls stadium where the boys would watch cars and make a couple dollars. There where lots of vacant buildings surrounding the apartment, most of which were controlled by gangs. The boys witnessed frequent shootings and knew exactly what to do at the sound of a gun. Although the boys live in a terrible area, they both stayed out of jail for the remainder of their childhood, stayed away from gangs, and survived all the frequent shootings.