With the way the economy is right now, I’m sure a lot of us are feeling the pinch. But before you start thinking of yourself as poor because you only have a few hundred bucks left over after the bills are paid, read Rousimar Palhares’ story of what poverty is really like:

“My childhood was a lot of work,” Palhares recently told MMAjunkie.com  (www.mmajunkie.com) through an interpreter. “From sunup until sundown, with my elder brothers and parents, we woke up at 4 a.m. and worked until 5 p.m. We took care of cattle, and we cleaned the rocas (plantations).”

The third born of 10 siblings, Palhares didn’t get the benefit of a normal childhood. Work didn’t allow for much playtime – or even a chance to attend school – in his native Dores Do Indaia, Brazil.

“I never had the chance to study because I had to help my parents feed my younger brothers and sisters,” Palhares said. “I started working when I was 10 years old. My family was big and poor, and we went through a lot of difficulties.”

“Difficulties” might be a minor understatement. While the 30-year-old prefers not to focus too much on the past, he recalls a time when the only option for dinner was the feed mix intended for the plantation’s pigs.

“We would get up at 4 a.m., have some breakfast, and take lunch to the fields, where we would work until 5 p.m. every day of the week,” Palhares said. “There were times that money was so tight that we had to eat animal feed. We would eat the feed that we gave the pigs.

He also tells a story about getting impaled on the shoot of a cut coffee tree, a few inches from his heart. They used scotch tape to cover the wound. Pfft … not too poor to stop using brand name tape, I see.