What Sustains You?

28 Aug, 2016 | Madeleine Pollard


Photos: Madeleine Pollard

Sustenance exists in many forms: food, drink, money, reggaeton. Reggaeton!?

We asked ciudadanos on the meandering streets of La Paz ‘What sustains you?,’ probing the motivational forces in their lives.


Age: 51

Profession: construction worker

Necessity – I have six children whom I must provide for and there is no one else to help me. This need is what keeps me going, the need to care for my children as well as to make them happy.


Age: 55

Profession: Advertising

My family, my Bolivia and faith in ser supremo – my god. He sustains me every day, and every year I return from Buenos Aires for el día de la paz to see my family, a tradition motivated by my identity as a Bolivian and one that has lasted 35 years.

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Age: 70

Profession: Orange juice vendor

Plata – I was a construction worker until I grew too old, now I sell oranges all year round, but as there is no work for me in the countryside I must come to the city. The need to work and the joy my grandchildren bring me are the most important things in my life.

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Olga and Judith

Ages: 32, 9

Profession: Hand puppet designers/sellers

Olga: My children – my son died as a baby in 2003, so I designed these hand puppets to pay him tribute and to make money for our family. My daughter Judith helps me sell them along El Prado. She loves to dance, dance is what keeps her going.

Judith: Yes, especially reggaeton! And mathematics – that’s my favourite subject at school. I love to multiply and to divide.

Olga: And health, you must not forget your health – looking after yourself is the most important thing.

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Age: 17

Profession: Student

My parents, friends, strategy computer games, football and the pursuit of adventure. When life gets difficult I like to be alone with my music.  

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Age: 23

Profession: Student

I have had two very traumatising experiences in my life. To keep me going I tried to find other people, a place to run to, but then I realised that you can’t find peace in others or somewhere external, you have to find it inside yourself first. I realised that I am my own source of happiness. I like visiting isolated places and sitting in silence – nowadays not many people can stand silence, they are always on their phone, but self-reflection is peace for me. I found that charity work is another source of motivation, giving and not asking for anything in return, making a positive impact in someone else’s life even when yours is difficult.

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