These images depict an evening of a teenage mother’s life regardless of if she is married or not. It is a life we are raised to do from childhood and the only difference now is that their babies have to come along because there is nobody to babysit them later on a feeding bottle or formula to be left behind.
If one is ‘lucky’, then their first born daughter of 3-5 years, whom they most likely gave birth to at 13 years of age, or younger sister can tag along for two reasons, one to help carry the baby as they gather the wood, secondly and very importantly, to learn from their mother or elder sister what makes a ‘great’ woman, one who knows what her roles are within the society.
In this case, they had to cross crocodile infested waters with their babies, move around the bush gathering the wood, then cross back and carry them on their heads with their babies on their backs. Because they are young, a companion/student can’t carry the baby throughout the 4KM journey home.
When they each get to their various homes, they will go fetch water on their heads with twenty litres Jerricans from a borehole which is one and a half kilometer away from their respective homes and with their babies still on their backs.
It is situations such as these that inform our strategy of teaching them skills so they can have some source of income that could help them do things like purchase cooking wood from men who do business selling cooking wood. The irony here is that men who go to the forest to cut or gather cooking wood do so for business purposes. Their wives still have to go get themselves wood to cook for him. The man is under no obligation to spend his ‘hard’ earned cooking wood money on feeding himself, his wife, children and extended family relatives. The rational is that the woman should have already looked for the food before she goes looking for wood and water to cook it.
This is the circle of life for Women here!