Paolo Patruno

Alcohol abuse
Location: Bologna
Nationality: Italian
Biography: I am a freelance documentary photographer and filmmaker. I traveled throughout Africa over the past ten years, documenting global topics, including health care, education, human rights, gender issues, sustainable development. Since 2011 I’m... read on
Public Story
Alcohol abuse
Credits: paolo patruno
Updated: 09/16/16
Location: Lilongwe Malawi
Archived as:  ,
Lilongwe, Malawi

Wellington, 34 years old. Married with Elube, 28 years, they have 3 children 10, 6 and 3 years old.
Since 2008 he has worked at City Lilongwe Assembly for roads maintenance, with a monthly salary of 8.100 kwacha, about 35 euros. In early 2011, however, W. has incurred a debt of 50.000 K to cover the expenses of his uncle funeral (in Malawi, as in many African countries people who work and have an income, have to contribute the costs of family members and relatives); the repayment is deducted directly with a payroll of 5.375 K / month. What remains is just enough to pay the rent of 2.500 k / month, 2 rooms of a decaying house.
Finished the secondary school Wellington wanted to study to become a Catholic priest, but the lack of money from his family forced him to leave the village in the district of Ntcheu to find out a job in the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe.
After finding his first job, a private business in the sale of salt, W. began drinking at the age of 18: first of 5 brothers, the responsibility to help his family, was too strong for him that was still a boy.

The local beer Chibuku, for the cost of a few tens of eurocents, and so easily accessible, was a way to redirect the mind from all thoughts and problems.
When Wellington finishes working around 4pm, goes home, washes, then goes to one of the many bars that are in the area where he lives. This all days, from monday to sunday.
At the end of the month he may spend even 2.000/2.500 K for beers, ¼ of his current salary, almost the cost of the house rent; when he has not money his friends can offer for his Chibuku.
In 2001 at the request and hard-pressed of his wife, W. tried stop drinking: he was almost successful, but when at the end of the year his wife was due to return to her village for few months, far from his family, loneliness has reported Wellington on the road of alcohol.
Today Wellington is trying to stop.... he feels stronger and better man, husband and father. 


By Paolo Patruno —

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