Lourdes Murillo checks the weather before going to work.
Lourdes Murillo checks the weather before going to work.

Lourdes Murillo, known by her family and close friends as Lula, is a migrant who dreams of returning to her homeland in Bolivia when she retires. Born in the historical city of Sucre, situated in the southern highlands, Lourdes lived a very precarious childhood among her six siblings. The lack of means to improve her situation led her to migrate to Argentina with her firstborn when she was seventeen. The father of her child followed her, and they built a life there. They had a house and four more children, but he was an abusive man, so she decided to try her luck again in Bolivia, where she found someone who loaned her the money to buy an airplane ticket to Spain.

“If you leave the house, it would be without the children. They are mine,” he threatened numerous times. In 2005, Lourdes arrived alone in Madrid. She had to start from zero again. Although she defines herself as a very shy person, the situation forced her to overcome that fear, and by word of mouth, she started working as a housekeeper in just a couple of months. Eager to expand her knowledge, she attended courses about helping the senior population and, after working in a nursing home, Lourdes became a geriatric assistant. For the last nine years, she has been working with a company that provides home care to the elderly, most of whom are dealing with issues such as dementia.

Two of her children will be coming to Spain soon, also looking for a better life. “That could potentially make my return difficult when I retire. As their mother, I will have to help them, and maybe I’ll have to change my plans for the future. We’ll see; it’s about to get a bit complicated.”

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How does it feel to be 72?

Why did you retire or why are you still working?

Why did you retire?

Why are you still working?

I haven’t reached retirement age yet, which is 65 in Spain. I would like to retire when I am sixty but I am not sure if that will be possible. The company I work for as a care home assistant told us it would fight to achieve a reduction of those five years since the type of job we do is physically demanding. We tend to end up with back problems. It would be wonderful if I could retire sooner because I’m already tired but if that’s not the case I would have to wait. I need the income.

I have dreamed of going back to my birth country, Bolivia. I always knew I would return. I kept hope but I don’t have a house or anywhere to go back to. I have nothing there because I migrated to Argentina out of necessity quite young and it is where I grew roots, it is my second house. My children and grandchildren live there. I cannot go by myself to Bolivia leaving them behind and I cannot take them with me because I have nowhere to stay so I have no other choice. Argentina will have to become my permanent home.

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What do you look forward to?

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What is your biggest concern?

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Life expectancy 2023

years

About the photographer

Sarabel Yansa

🌐
Madrid

Sarabel Yansa is an independent photographer and writer whose main interest lies in anthropology and photojournalism. She is concerned with subject matters such as migration, identity and women’s issues.

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