Bernardo said she looked for jobs and tried selling cosmetics and working as a waitress, but without a high school degree, the pay was minimal.

“I would get 150 reais ($75) for working all day, which would just pay the salary of someone to stay with my mother,” she said, after patiently feeding her mother a plate of reheated spaghetti.

“There comes a time when you have to make decisions to get what you want. You have to be strong.”