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Mid-September 2006 From Carmen’s Notebook

Spending some time in the workshops with the Q’ewar ladies, I had the opportunity to ask them about their daily life and how the week usually shaped up for them.  It was generally agreed that wake-up time is 5 or 6 am, depending on what season it is.  IF it is planting time (August, September) or harvesting time (April and May), the ladies get up between 3 and 4 am depending on how far they have to walk to get to their field.  Some of the ladies told me that they have land (chacra) not far from where they live; some said they had to walk an hour or so! 

In the evenings before the work in the fields, food and drink must be prepared to take with them.  Since most of the Q’ewar ladies have land that is not too far away, they are able to work in the very early morning hours, then come to the Q’ewar Project at 8:00 am.  The fields for maize/corn, which is a Peruvian staple, are usually nearby, but the ladies told me that the potato fields are at a higher elevation – ½ hour to 1 ½ hours walk away. (Elevations of 3100 to 3700 meters)

When the land is being tended in those months, as soon as the children reach about 13 years of age, they get up early too to help in the fields.  The little ones stay home with mother or a relative, or just join the other workers, from the unique vantage point of being snugly wrapped in mother’s manta.

Cheerfully, the doll-making ladies told me that when they don’t have to tend the fields their day starts at 6am to get breakfast started, children up and dressed for school, fed breakfast and tidy up before coming to work.  We all had a laugh as this pattern seems fairly universal!  But of course, in the dwelling of these ladies, there is no cozy bed to climb out of, no warm water in a bathroom to wash up in, no nicely fitted out kitchen with all the modern conveniences so many women of the world enjoy.  A small child perhaps is in charge of starting the wood fire, maybe in the same room that the family was sleeping in-sharing beds and making do with the little guinea pigs scurrying under a table wanting their breakfast too. (Guinea pigs, called “cuy” (coo-ee) and chicken are a very common source of meat in the diet of the poor.)

Breakfast is sometimes soup that was left over from the day before, or quark made from milk, white bread rounds made in the village, and a hot drink made from herbs or maize.  Then, off to the Project for 8am.


From Cuzco Carmen

Posted by Carmen on 09/18 at 01:39 PM in International

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