When doctors failed to save her sister, who was 25 weeks pregnant, from a brain aneurysm in 2006, Kathleen Coyle was determined to provide the best care for the baby, who survived but was born prematurelyMOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 16th January, 2019) When doctors failed to save her sister, who was 25 weeks pregnant, from a brain aneurysm in 2006, Kathleen Coyle was determined to provide the best care for the baby, who survived but was born prematurely.
Today, her 12-year-old niece Mary continues to suffer from conditions such as cerebral palsy because of complications from the premature birth and requires frequent visits to the hospital for treatment. Kathleen, 39, had to quit her job to meet Mary's medical needs, leaving her father as the sole breadwinner for the household of four, including herself, her father, Mary and her older nephew Robbie.
After US President Donald Trump's demand for $5.6 billion Federal funds for a border wall between the United States and Mexico led to a dispute with the Congress, the US federal government was shut down on December 22, 2018 as both sides failed to agree on an appropriations bill to fund the federal government's operations for the 2019 fiscal year.
As the shutdown of the US federal government entered its fourth week on Monday, Kathleen's father, a geologist who works for the Department of Interior, has not been able to work since the Christmas holiday and has not received a paycheck since January 1, a similar experience among other almost 800,000 furloughed US federal employees.
"He [Kathleen's father] has been out of work since before Christmas. We got a paycheck on January 1. But that's the last one we got. We're supposed to get one today. But we did not get one today," Kathleen told Sputnik in a phone interview.
After Kathleen's mother passed away in 2011, her family had to rely on her father's income for daily expenses, as it was impossible for her to find a job that allows her to have time take care of Mary.
"I haven't paid any bills for things like mortgage, water, electricity or gas since the beginning of this month. Everything [all the bills] is due already. It's winter here and it's really cold. If I lose electricity, water or heat, we can't live in this house. Mary's immune system is being suppressed to help her with her Crohn's disease. She's very very likely to get sick, if that would happen," she said.
According to Kathleen, almost half of her father's monthly salary of $6,800 goes to mortgage payment for their house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
She was forced to cut back on all nonessential expenses while waiting for her father's next paycheck to arrive.
"I'm just trying to not spend on anything. I'm not taking the kids anywhere. We're just not doing anything. I'm basically not spending any money right now. I just did not thing we [the shutdown] would go this long," she said.
Kathleen admitted that if the situation becomes really difficult, she would probably have to go to the "food banks" for free groceries offered by local churches, something her family had never had to face.
"I don't want to be mean or rude. We've grown accustomed to a certain way of living, because my dad works hard for what he's got. This is the first time in our lives, where I can't tell the kids if we'll have our house or our car. This wasn't supposed to happen," she said.
"First of all, Hillary Clinton was horrible. If you ask anybody about the election, it's about who was the lesser of the two evil. What made Trump so appealing to me was that he was a celebrity and a billionaire to come in and take over the government, [promising] all the spending will stop. The air quotes 'Make America Great Again.' But that did not happen," she said, adding that Trump promised during his presidential election campaign that Mexico would pay for the border wall between the two countries.
If given a second chance, Kathleen said she would have made a different choice in 2016.
"It's a touchy topic in America. My dad was a big Trump supporter. But I think even he lost faith in him right now, because why would he [Trump] turn his back on his own country? It's been crazy. If I had to go back in time, I would have chosen [Hillary] Clinton, because she probably would not have done this," she said.
Nevertheless, Kathleen stressed that immigrants should come to the United States legally.
"We have so many things going on in this country. I love my country. Don't get me wrong. But there are so many things that are wrong. The thing is I just want people to come to this country legally. That's because if people comes to this country illegally, they get benefits and stuff like that. I've been here the whole time, but they're getting more benefits. I'm all for immigration and the 'American Dream.' But you need to do it the right way. I can't just get on a plane and go to Australia and stay there," she said.
The democratic system has given Kathleen hope for a better choice in the next presidential election.
"I want other countries to know that this is not a bad country. But sometimes, with the freedom and democratic choice, you have to pay for your decisions and who you voted for. Luckily, every four years, we can choose someone else," she said.
As her last resort, Kathleen requested for $2,400 in financial assistance on the popular crowdfunding website GoFundMe.com. To her disappointment, she only received $20 of donation 9 days after posting her request online.
"As you can see on GoFundMe, I only have $20. I put it on Facebook, Reddit and YouTube. I'm not asking too much. I'm only asking for one of my dad's paychecks he gets every two weeks. I feel so devastated and disheartened by the fact that people are like 'oh, $2,400 for a paycheck. That's a lot of money. You should have a savings account.' I'm sorry I don't fit into your normal social or economic way of living," she said.
"The middle class in this country is disappearing. Nobody cares about the middle class anymore. It's all about the lower class or the higher class. Once the lower class starts to get upset, maybe stuff will happen," she said.
The current financial troubles have taught her that she needs to start saving money in the future, Kathleen added.
"Everyone asks me that [if we have savings]. My father has a government job and he is a disabled veteran. You're basically never going to lose your job, unless you don't want it anymore. I wish I would have seen this coming or a 2020 vision (the ability to see the future). Once my father gets back to work, I'll be having a saving account and start saving money," she said.
Before becoming a geologist, Kathleen's father was in the US Navy and fought in the Vietnam War.