Waiting on the World to Change


But Billy Joe's stress didn't end at school. There wasn't much electricity or heat in his house, and sometimes his family used the stove and oven to stay warm at night.

Food was also scarce. On one occasion, his toddler nieces were without milk, but poverty breeds ingenuity, and containers of coffee shop half-and-half were poured into their bottle.

Luckily, Billy Joe worked at a fast-food chain in a neighboring town, where he could get a free meal and also earn some money.

"I feel the obligation to help my father out," he said. "'Cause I know that he can't do it all by himself."

At 10:30 p.m., Billy Joe boarded the bus back home, where his homework was still waiting for him. Always in the back of his mind was the knowledge that he would have to wake up at 6 a.m. the next day and do it all over again.

"Greatness requires sacrifice," he said.

Moochie's Family Struggle

Elsewhere in Camden, "20/20" met 6-year-old Andriana Rodriguez, who goes by the nickname "Moochie."

She took "20/20" on a matter-of-fact tour through her neighborhood and playground.

"Don't fall," she said. "You might get stuck by the needles. The drug dealers come and put a whole lot of needles in here. The killer ones, the raper ones, they're evil people."

Her home life was also something of a war zone, with her parents battling constantly, often about her father's drinking problem. All Moochie could do was cover her ears to try to block the arguments.

Jamie, Moochie's dad, drinks a six-pack of beer and a pint of vodka nightly, stashing the evidence under the couch. He said he didn't think his kids noticed, but his daughter certainly knew that something was wrong.

School provided the sole sanctuary for Moochie, who vowed to get straight As and graduate from college.

"Please stop drinking," Moochie said affectionately to her father while hugging him. "I love you!"

Where Are They Now?

After nearly two weeks in rehab, Jamie returned home, but days later was back to his old habits. After staying sober for just ten days, Jaime was placed in a long-term mental facility.

"My dad didn't change, not one bit," says an angry Moochie. The family situation has taken a toll on her, and she now suffers from migraines. But through it all, Moochie has not given up her dream of becoming a judge.

Billy attended summer classes earning that elusive high school diploma and the family's power has finally been turned back on. He will be attending community college and still has his sights set on greatness.

Ivan told us his Christmas wish was a house with "bathrooms, food in the refrigerator, cabinets, bread, chocolate pudding, curtains, lights and a heater."

While Santa's elves did come through with some toys for Ivan, his reaction was "he forgot to get me a house."

Despite the constant rejection and disappointment, Ivan remains positive that one day he will finally get that house.

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