MPW.71 / 2019 Going Home to Holy Mount Zhyaughn by Nina Riggio
Photographer
Story Summary

Twelve-year-old Zhyaughn Bethea was born with autism. A year ago his mother Khy escaped her abusive relationship after 14 years of marriage. The Bethea family moved to the predominantly white community of Boonville, Missouri. At first, with nowhere to live, they moved in with their only friend in town. Leaving the comforts of a middle class military home, Khy is now navigating the world of welfare and social housing. Zhyaughn grapples with anxiety, depression, and high-functioning autism. When he speaks, it’s with wisdom beyond his years. “Kids these days are struggling with too many societal pressures,” he says, “being a kid in 2019 isn’t like how it was in 1969.” He may struggle to be a typical middle-school kid but he finds safe space in the comfort of his family and dreams of becoming a professional cartoonist one day.