Article published in Svenska Dagbladet
13 September 2016
By Rocio Lloret
Bolivia. If there is one thing Alicia Muñoz could ask the genie in Aladdin’s lamp, it would be for more hours to spend with her daughter Adriana Chavez, 8 years.
-As it is now, I only see her for short amounts of time and it’s spent nagging her to do her homework or not watch too much TV. I know her childhood is slipping through my fingers, but I have no other choice and I can only hope that she’ll one day understand.
Alicia Muñoz, 31, is a nurse working at a small clinic in a rural district of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia’s biggest city. Every afternoon she goes to work for six to twelwe hours, and two Sundays a month she works 24 hours in a row. For these past six years, she’s only once had a holiday.
Her monthly salary is the equivalent of around £200. With her salary she pays for food, clothes, and the small room where she lives with her daughter ever since her ex-husband left them to start a family with another woman six years ago. In the room there’s only enough space for two beds, a TV stand, and a wardrobe. On the walls there are photos of Adriana holding school diplomas.
-She’s very intelligent but also obstinate, because if she doesn’t feel like it she completely ignores to learn, says Alicia.
For the most part Alicia and her daughter only see each other at lunch. After school, Adriana comes with her mother to the clinic for a few hours as Alicia wants to make sure she’s doing her homework. But being responsible for over 20 patients means that there is not a lot of time left to help her daughter. A little bit later someone – the dad, a cousin, or a friend – comes to pick Adriana up whilst Alicia keeps working. Sometimes they see each other again in the evening, but usually it takes until the next day.
-Adriana had to learn early on to sleep over at different people’s houses. People often believe that her older cousin Cintia is her mother. I don’t have a problem with that because Cintia is a good person and very mature for her age of 26. But Adriana only wants to go to Cintia’s evangelical church and my wish is that she becomes a catholic.
Alicia would like to teach her daughter many things. She wants Adriana to know that you can succeed in life with a good job, and thinks that a mother should be the one to talk about sex and drugs. But in reality Cintia is the one who has the most contact with Adriana. She’s the one talking about values, teaches Adriana to eat new things, and tells her off.
-With Cintia she never argues but with me it’s the other way around, because I spend what little time we have together rebuking her.
Article published in Svenska Dagbladet, 13/9 2016. Full article (in Swedish) here: https://www.svd.se/hennes-barndom-rinner-mig-ur-handerna/om/att-vara-foralder