People of Chelsea: Daniela Perez Lopez – April 20, 2021

By Darlene DeVita

The following is one in a series of sneak peeks at the upcoming People of Chelsea additions by Chelsea Photographer Darlene DeVita. The new work will ultimately appear on the fence of the Chelsea Public Library (CPL) Spring of 2022 a collaboration between the People of Chelsea project and the CPL.)

“I’ve been living here for my whole life, 15 yrs.   My parents are from Guatemala. My dad came to the US at the age of 16.

My dad didn’t have family here, but now he does. He came here walking across the border.   He lived in Boston for a few years. Then he moved here to Chelsea.  He went back to Guatemala at the age of 42, met my mom, and brought her here.  My dad is from the countryside. My mom is from Guatemala City.  He worked both day and night jobs; as a custodian in the elementary school and then at State Garden (near Market Basket). He’d get a 2-hour rest in between.

After that, my dad only did a day job as the custodian. My mom is now working. She used to work in Charlestown, but now, because of COVID, they had to send everyone home. She ended up finding a mid-term job over at MGH as a custodian.

I have three siblings a younger brother and two sisters. I’m the oldest. I also have a stepbrother who lives in Revere.   Right now, we own a house. We rented for 14 yrs. 

I’m in 9th grade at Chelsea High.  I used to work a summer job for La Colaborativa. We did door-knocking for the census and voting. We would go up to people walking on the streets and ask if they have time to fill it out. Or we would go to houses and ask them if they filled out the census, and if they haven’t, we would tell them not to be afraid because the census doesn’t ask for immigrant status or anything like that, nothing to do with ICE…we just need a count of people of Chelsea.

My dream school is to go to Harvard and be in business administration, to own a company or be a CEO of something. I was always great with math. I was always an A and B student throughout my entire life, but since high school, my first semester was kinda bad. I had to stay home to take care of my siblings. My parents both work in the morning, and my dad gets home at 3PM. Since I’m the oldest, I’m in charge of taking care of my three siblings. But it’s mostly my brother (13) taking care of himself and not helping me.  So I’m primarily in charge of my two sisters (9 and 5). Helping my youngest sister go to school, and keeping an eye on her, so she doesn’t bother the other one. I also have to take care of the other sister to stay in school and not bother my little sister. I have to resolve the problems because I don’t want to call my dad because I know he’s busy.

School gave us chrome books; my youngest sister has a tablet, and me and my brother and sister have laptops.  They opened middle and elementary schools. They haven’t decided on the high schools yet.  I got in trouble twice with my teachers. They asked me in the private message why didn’t you do this or that, and I had to explain to them that this is not an excuse and that I had to do something for my sisters if they want something, I have to provide.  They have different lunchtimes. I go from 11:22 to 11:50 for lunch. One sister goes around 10:50P, and my other sister goes from 11 – 11:25. My teachers know that I have siblings, but they’re annoyed hearing my excuses. BUT, I’m improving!  I’m in honor classes now!”

 Way to Go Daniela!!! 

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