This is the true story of Chirta. She lives in rural Southern Ethiopia. Let me take you through how her life and days go by.
She is 25. She is skinny and looks very old for her age. She has never been to school. She already has 5 children and expects to have more like the rest of the women in her village.
Every morning , she gets up at 3:00 am in the morning and walk for 2 hours to reach to the nearest water point. She lines up for another two hours to get water and walks back for another 2 carrying 2 big Jeri Cans full of water. She usually gets back home at around 11 a.m and prepares food for the family. She walks another hour to take the food to her husband working on the farm. She spends the afternoon working with him and gets back home before the end of the day to prepare dinner. She starts on dinner at around 6 PM. By the time everyone is done eating and she cleans up the mess, its already 11 PM. She goes to sleep and wakes up again at 3 in the morning.
She does this everyday.
Some days, she goes out to collect firewood. The forest in the area has ,literally, died out. She has to walk for 8-9 hours to collect wood. Walking down might not be a problem for her, coming back carrying a long heavy buckle of wood is.
In between the long walks to fetch water or firewood anything can happen. Anything from rape to abduction to getting beaten.
The same routine goes by even when she is pregnant. Many of the women in her villages have a similar schedule. Some of them give birth on the farms and are expected to get back to work in a few days.
It hasn’t rained enough for another season. They haven’t had sufficient food in the house in a long time. When this happens she eats last after the children and the husband. There are days she doesn’t eat at all.
I could tell she hasn’t had anything to eat in I don’t know how long . But , I have never seen such dry lips in my entire life. She still manages to smile and talk to me for hours. Not that she has time to chat ,just that she has to be nice to strangers.
In all anthropological fairness am trying not to be judgmental. But, I keep thinking, what the heck kind of society treats women like that ?