RAISE A VOICE: Daniel’s “Mila”

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Each year, 826LA partners with one Los Angeles public school for the Young Authors’ Book Project (YABP). Volunteers work with students for several weeks to write pieces around a central theme. The annual Young Authors’ Book Project engages students at one high school in every aspect of writing, editing, and publishing. In Through the Same Halls: Journeys of Elders Born and Raised in South Central and Beyond, students interviewed and wrote about the people who shaped their families and community.


“She always tells me to stay in school and do good”

—from “Mila” by Daniel M.

In the eighties, when my grandma was about twenty years old, there was a civil war going on in El Salvador. She would tell me how when the soldiers came to town, they would recruit children, and they would hide in the rooftops. Despite all this, my grandma stayed in El Salvador and became a street vendor and made enough money to take care of her family. My grandma was working as a street vendor at the time, and she would give the soldiers free food so they wouldn’t bother her.

I grew up in central Los Angeles. I have one brother and five cousins and my parents both work. My dad is in construction and my mom is a nanny. When I get out of high school, I want to be a professional music producer–I make my own beats now–and have my own video game studio.

One of the challenges I have is staying focused in school. I think of my grandma because when she was going to school, her family was poor, and she had to help out and quit school.

One of the traits that I’ve noticed has been passed down from elders in my family is that we are hardworking. I noticed this when my grandma came to visit and we had a party where my grandma sold food for the people who came, so that when she had to go back to El Salvador she would have money.

Now that I’m about to leave high school and I want to be a professional music producer, my family and my grandma have taught me that hard work is really important in life. Hearing my grandma’s stories about living in El Salvador and being in the middle of a civil war has made me appreciate where I live now, in a peaceful country, where me and my family are comfortable and I have a future.

About the Author

Daniel M. was born in Los Angeles, California. He attends Manual Arts High School and is passionate about music and makes beats outside of class. When he finishes high school, Daniel hopes to continue to produce beats at a studio.

The views expressed in this book are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of 826LA. We support student publishing and are thrilled you are reading this text. Purchase Through the Same Halls in stores and online at the Time Travel Mart here.

Help students like Daniel gain the tools they need to write their futures: Support 826LA’s free writing and tutoring programs for students in under-resourced communities. Donate today, and amplify the voices of tomorrow.

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