CARMEN AND ZOSANick Brandt
Little by little, they built their house. Carmen worked as a bricklayer’s assistant with her husband, with whom she had two children. They were in the process of adding rooms for Carmen’s brother. Carmen set up a neighbourhood store and felt complete.
Everything changed one Saturday in February 2011, the day of the mega-landslide in La Paz. Caused by prolonged heavy rains, it was the worst that anyone, up until that point, had seen.
In the adjoining neighbourhood, some houses were already beginning to be evacuated. Carmen went there and began helping people rescue their belongings. But after a few hours, Carmen realized that the disaster was going to be worse than originally thought. She went back to her home, to discover that houses behind hers were already beginning to collapse.
Carmen was coming out of her house with rescued belongings when the windows and doors began to smash. Outside, she turned back to see the house literally break in half. One half began to move in the opposite direction to the other half.
Ten minutes later, the entire house collapsed. It was one of 400 homes destroyed that day.
But for Carmen, the tragedy did not end there. In the following years, after living in a refugee camp, her husband left her. Carmen tried to rebuild the home that she longed for so much. Recently, however, her eldest son committed suicide, due to problems related to his school performance.
And yet for the two weeks that Carmen was with us, even though she unsurprisingly says that she cannot hold back the tears at times, she was always a radiant, positive presence, helping production just because she wanted to make herself useful. She was such a strong woman, where most of us would have surely collapsed.
Carmen now has her own small grocery store in El Alto, La Paz.
Zosa, a three-toed sloth, was perhaps eight months old when she was photographed here. She was confiscated by the police from a restaurant in December 2021. Along with many other animals, she was kept there to attract customers, after being bought as a baby in a nearby market town. Like so many other animals, her mother was killed.
Zosa now lives up in trees in the forest at Senda Verde.
Because sloths are the slowest-moving mammal in the world, these astonishing, sweet creatures increasingly meet terrible deaths. As more and more of the Amazon is destroyed by fires started by man, the sloths are too slow to be able to escape. And when the trees they inhabit in the forest are chopped down, the sloths come crashing down with the trees. Countless others are run over.
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