Good and Bad News for Mayerlín

A Story about Chagas Disease

April 14 is World Chagas Day.

The photographer Ana Ferreira has travelled to Bolivia, one of the endemic countries with higher disease burden.

This photo collection brings us closer to Mayerlín’s story.

PHOTOS: ANA FERREIRA

TEXTS: ANA FERREIRA / FCO. JAVIER SANCHO / PAU RUBIO

A documentary by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

Published April 10, 2017.

Mayerlín is 7 years-old and lives between San Antonio and Valle Nuevo, South of Bolivia

The Bad News

© Ana Ferreira
San Antonio, Bolivia.

Some time ago, they gave her bad news: she was infected with T. cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease.

Her Parents

© Ana Ferreira
San Antonio, Bolivia

Her parents are Juan and Tomasa. Fortunately, both are free from infection.

“When the children were small, there were lots of kissing bugs. The houses were made with straw and not with roof tiles like today. The bugs hid under the straw, together with fleas and bedbugs"

Work

© Ana Ferreira
San Antonio, Bolivia

Her father, Juan, works in the fields.

He takes care of the hens, corn, peanuts, peppers and cumanda that they have at home.

And more work

© Ana Ferreira
San Antonio, Bolivia

Tomasa, her mother, takes care of thehouse. Here, she grinds corn with a stone to feed the hens, while Mayerlín eats almonds that her father brought from the fields.

Popcorn

© Ana Ferreira
San Antonio, Bolivia

On the days where matches take place in the football field of the community, Mayerlín helps her mother to prepare popcorn bags to sell to the crowd.

Her friends

© Ana Ferreira
San Antonio, Bolivia.

But not everything is work. Mayerlín plays with her friends Alexander, Keilyn, Limbert, Ruisel and Colita.

Although endemic to Latin America, Chagas disease has spread globally. It is among WHO’s list of the 17 most neglected diseases. Between 6 and 7 million people are estimated to be infected with the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite. Bolivia is, in fact, the country with highest disease prevalence.

Walks

© Ana Ferreira

Between San Antonio, where her parents live, and Valle Nuevo, where she attends school, there is a 2 hour walk. A distance that Mayerlín covers at least twice a week.

Normality

© Ana Ferreira
Community of Valle Nuevo, Bolivia

Despite her disease, Mayerlín has continued to attend school regularly. Among those who get infected, 30% will develop severe or fatal disease if not treated on time.

Her school

© Ana Ferreira
Valle Nuevo, Bolivia

In her class there are six students: three are four-years old and three are seven-years old.

Dora

© Ana Ferreira
Valle Nuevo, Bolivia

Dora, her teacher, also has Chagas Disease.

Homework

© Ana Ferreira
Valle Nuevo, Bolivia

Before the end of the day, Mayerlín must do her homework. She is learning her multiplication tables.

One of 39,000

© Ana Ferreira
Valle Nuevo, Bolivia

Mayerlín, however, is not exactly like other girls her age, but one of the 39,000 new cases of Chagas Disease every year.