Health

A mother's devotion to her disabled daughter

Updated 11:32 AM ET, Mon December 12, 2016
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Tonina was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age 3. Her mother, Maria, has always helped care for her. Photographer Alessandro Rampazzo documented their daily lives in Italy as part of his ongoing project "When we are gone." Alessandro Rampazzo/Echo Photojournalism
Maria's bedroom. Now in her 80s, she became a widow more than 50 years ago. Rampazzo's curiosity was piqued after he read there was no law for people who weren't able to take care of themselves when their families were no longer able to do so. Alessandro Rampazzo/Echo Photojournalism
Before bed, Maria massages Tonina's feet to help the blood circulate. Alessandro Rampazzo/Echo Photojournalism
Maria squeezes the toothpaste on Tonina's toothbrush. Because of the advanced state of her illness, Tonina needs help with basic daily activities. Alessandro Rampazzo/Echo Photojournalism
Tonina gets on a van that will take her to the city. A few months before, the service was suspended because she was the only person in her area using it. After she wrote a letter to a local newspaper, the service restarted. Alessandro Rampazzo/Echo Photojournalism
Two days a week, together with other people affected by similar illnesses, Tonina spends a few hours at an association where she does small computer jobs. Alessandro Rampazzo/Echo Photojournalism
Tonina's daily life is mostly made possible by her elderly mother. Even something seemingly easy, like going to the toilet, takes many minutes of preparation. Alessandro Rampazzo/Echo Photojournalism
To get out of bed, Tonina needs a tool called a "giraffe" or "horse," which lifts her. The operation is only possible thanks to the help of her mother. Alessandro Rampazzo/Echo Photojournalism
Maria has been taking care of Tonina since her birth. Her husband died a few months after Tonina was born. Alessandro Rampazzo/Echo Photojournalism
For a few years, Tonina has had a boyfriend. He is slowly learning to take care of her needs. Alessandro Rampazzo/Echo Photojournalism