A single mother works every day in her kiosk in Chasquipampa (Bolivia), which, for a long time, was where she lived with her 4-year-old daughter.
Maritza Mamani, the owner, works in a metal kiosk located on 51st Street in Chasquipampa, Bolivia. Every day in the morning, she arranges the bags filled with potato chips, lemons, and eucalyptus leaves, along with the other merchandise she has, to start her working day. She works in the same place where, until recently, she slept with her four-year-old daughter, Maribel, who, like her, is also albino. They spent their nights there, scared and with nowhere to go. All they could do was hug each other.
While Maritza worked at the kiosk, her little girl wore her white hair in two tiny braids as she played with her friends. They smile all the time, while the mothers of all those little ones watch them from their workstations. Maritza is one of them, thinking with worry about how difficult it was to raise a daughter in the face of challenging poverty.
““Poor Maritza suffers a lot. We have known her since she carried Maribel in her arms when she was very young. She used to go around everywhere selling. She was a traveling seller, but she was always with her little girl. She never left her side. They both lived in that kiosk.”
– said one of the vendors who was next to this albino mother to Página Siete–
At one point. Maritza was close to having a home in Ullau Ullau. It was a room for rent, for which they were asking almost $36 a month. The woman in charge took pity on her and lowered it to $33 a month. It was a bit far from her place of work, but it was much cheaper than the $71 and $115 a month offered elsewhere. However, when she had already found peace in that lease, she started to become frightened by other merchants because she had changed her line of business (from selling candy to fruit) without completing the corresponding procedures with the municipality. It was then that she decided not to leave the kiosk, remaining hidden there with her daughter, fearing arrest.
“The girl and I don’t care about food. Up to three days can go by, and we don’t feel like eating. Maribel never asks for food. I almost force her to eat. Could it be a health problem due to our condition? Can someone give us some guidance? (…) Maribel is white like me when I was born (…) I attracted the same attention in my town, but I was ashamed because they told me I looked like a granny because of my white hair, that’s why I covered my head. I didn’t even want to go out in the street, but my mother insisted and said: ‘What are we doing, my daughter? If God sent you like this, then what are you ashamed of? I feel very proud of how pretty you are’. That’s how she encouraged me to go out.”
– said Maritza–
Today this albino woman is 22 years old and has black hair. She dyed it, possibly to go unnoticed. She gave birth to Maribel when she was 18, astonishing everyone with her birth. However, both are currently alone. Maritza actually had to recover from childbirth on her own. In addition, due to her albinism and for not having the information about her condition and the care she should have, the light caused a lot of damage to Maritza’s eyes, so that by the age of 15 she had lost most of her sight. Fortunately, her parents managed to move her to La Paz, where she was enrolled in the Bolivian Institute of Blindness, where she acquired independence by learning Braille and how to move as a blind person.
In that same place, she met the man she would fall in love with and with whom she’d have Maribel. However, in a short time, what seemed like a love story ended in violence and abandonment. She suffered mistreatment and humiliation from him, and when his family saw her unprotected and visually impaired, they tried to separate her from her daughter, but they couldn’t. Even when being almost blind, she did not stop fighting to be by Maribel’s side.
“She doesn’t have to suffer. Besides, whoever has her will just love her for a while. Not like me, her mother, who will always love her. Besides, she is a little lady, and she doesn’t separate from me (…) When she grows up, I will tell her how our life was, how we were together, always together. She’s like my partner, my little sister, my friend; she’s like my clothes, my jewel. The love I have for her is unique, without her, I wouldn’t be human (…) Maribel has a very strong character. Sometimes she is willful and shouts. I hope she changes. I suggest to her not to act like that; but sometimes I also think that if she is quiet and humble like I am they can take advantage of her, as they did with me; but, thinking about it, I prefer her to be humble and not hurt anyone”
– said Maritza–
Luckily, it seems that her hardest and most difficult nights are about to come to an end. A few days ago, Unitel journalists came to her newsstand with the intention of taking her home. There, she told her story, which was summarized here, touching everyone that heard her, including the authorities, who put a support plan in place for them. They’ve been given food, glasses for their eyes, appliances, toys, clothes, and even a small oven. Maritza’s next goal is the same one she’s had for a long time: to get a house, a piece of land where she can settle with Maribel, so that they can move forward and live together happily as mother and daughter.