She leaves her home at dark, before sunrise. It’s 5am. Tiptoeing around her 5 sleeping children, she splashes water on her face to wake her up from the little sleep she had the night before, due to several drunken fights men had outside her home throughout the night.
She walks with 2 friends today. She sometimes has to walk alone. Six kilometers to this forest. This is area one. Areas two, three and four give and take 2 kilometers more. She has to get food for her children to eat today. So she presses forward.
She takes the 60 cents she saved from yesterday’s labor and gives it to the Forester. He controls the coming and going of firewood from his forest. She takes the bundle of firewood, wraps it in strips of cloth and hoists it up on her head, preparing for the journey home. It’s 12 noon.
Steady, strong, slowly, Mama balances the bundle atop her sturdy frame as she steps 1, 2, 3. . . This is daily life -to sell this bundle for $1.20/day and save half to feed her family.
She is a firewood carrier.
If it is the dry season, she can afford to make a second trip. But it is now raining, and she will only be able to do one.
“How do you survive,” I ask her.
Giggle. BIG sigh.
“Only God knows”