Potosi's little guards
At 8 o´clock sharp, Yoddy opens the shaky metal door of her house in order to turn on the compressor that provides the surrounding mines with air. Her mother Maxima (41) and her two brothers Israel (7) and Paul (9) are still lying under the pile of blankets that protects them from the morning chill of the 4000m high altiplano. The family lives on the Cerro Rico, the “rich mountain” in Potosí, Bolivia. Like 200 other families, they guard the entrance to one of the 500 silver-mines and therefore receive a payment of 40€ per month, barely enough to buy groceries for two weeks. Without her husband‘s salary, who died in a mining accident at the age of 35, Maxima is forced to work in the mines herself. Together with her children, she helps the miners to push the heavy mining cart out of the tunnel, or free the adit of debris.