A few years back I had the opportunity to travel to La Paz, Bolivia with LIMBS International to photograph their work in prosthetic clinics. LIMBS is an incredible organization that sends doctors and therapists to 9 developing countries, fitting amputees in need with low-cost limbs and educating local prosthetists on techniques and patient care. This was an eye-opening and life changing project for me. I met many people, doctors and patients and family members, who overflowed with compassion and shared both heartwarming and heartbreaking experiences. These photos are a part of their story.
Pictured above are two homemade limbs that patients came off the street with. Without access to medical care, some Bolivians are forced to craft their own prosthesis out of found items – in this case a pipe, some canvas straps, cardboard, and old socks.
Ricc Gonzales, a prosthetist from Texas standing at the entrance of the LIMBS clinic in La Paz.
Ricc showing a local prosthetist techniques on creating a knee joint.
La Paz, Bolivia.
This is Israel. A young and sprightly child, and a recurring patient at the clinic. He laughed at my Spanish and we played ball together in the courtyard.
Andrew, a prosthetist from Canada, Carlos, a prosthetist from southern Bolivia, and Ricc, a prosthetist from Texas.
Sweet, sweet Melanie. Full of curiosity and so excited to see pictures of herself on the back of my camera screen.
JP from Canada, helping at the clinic.
A soccer game in La Paz, with the town of El Alto in the background on the hill.
An early morning taping of three founders of LIMBS speaking on a talkshow – I’m told it’s like the “Bolivian Oprah.”
At the end of our time in La Paz, we organized a recreational soccer game. The best part? It was amputees versus staff.
Sylvia, a patient at the clinic, visits the local farmers market.
Traditional Bolivian dance.
When I arrived in La Paz, it happened to be a couple of days before Easter. I met Carlos – a Bolivian prosthetist who lived in Cochabamba, a city about 250 miles southeast of La Paz. He invited me to join his family for the holiday. So I flew from La Paz to Cochabamba with Ricc, the other Texan prosthetist. We stayed with Carlos for the weekend, ate a delicious Easter feast, and visited the second largest statue of Jesus in the world.
Carlos and his family, with myself included on the right.
Carlos in his home office.
And last but not least, it wouldn’t be a trip to Bolivia without hugging some colorfully decorated alpacas.
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