Faces of poverty

Millions of people are living in poverty and barely getting by, depending on government assistance. Here's what they're doing to survive.

Excited about the future
Excited about the future
Mary Ijaz reads with her daughter, Laudly.
Mary Ijaz, 48
Monmouth, Ore.

Only five years ago, Mary Ijaz was living in a 5-bedroom house in California with a Lexus and Land Rover. Then her husband left her and their seven children, emptying out their bank accounts.

With no money or job, she survived by cramming her family into her sister's two-bedroom apartment in Oregon, before leaving to spend the summer in a campground tent. Having hit rock bottom, she turned to the Dallas Resource Center for help.

The social service agency set her up with housing and helped her apply for other government aid. She now receives $2,660 in food stamps, cash assistance and housing help, as well as $1,850 in a Pell Grant to go to community college, where she's getting straight A's. She plans to study radiology so she can earn more than enough to support her family.

"It's a complete turnaround. I'm so excited about the potential for the future," Ijaz said. "My kids are not going to be on government assistance as adults."

By Tami Luhby - Last updated September 20 2011: 9:07 AM ET
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