Monday, January 24, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Girl

A blue plastic basin with a just enough water in the bottom served as the starting point for this girl. She carefully scrubbed her green plastic shoes to remove what looked like three years worth of dirt. Very likely, however, the dirt was only from today. She proceeded to scrub her feet and her lower legs – no point in putting dirty feet into clean shoes.

After dumping the basin full of dirty water, she proceeded to pick the clothing from the line (there’s another line to the right of this photo). Clothing hangs everywhere all the time in Uganda. People are very particular about being clean and with all the red dust staying clean can be quite a chore. She folded each piece with her tiny hands until the stack was tall. Returning the clothing to its proper place inside the home she took up the basin work again.

Filling the basin until it was almost too heavy for her to carry, she made her way back to the same spot where she washed her shoes and legs. Unfortunately she tripped on the edge of the grass and almost landed face first in the basin. Several shouts of “sorry” toward that young girl left her unfazed. Now she was aware of all the attention on her and the next chore left her feeling a little embarrassed.

She removed her shirt, skirt, and panties and began scrubbing each piece with care. Clothing here can’t last long given the hand scrubbing methods we use. As the last piece came off she tended to remain in a crouching position so as to cover herself just a bit. Now hung on a line, her clothing would dry in the evening sun while she proceeded to wash herself and put on some of the clean clothes recently removed from the line.

I’m not sure why this scene struck me so. Perhaps because in the United States no four or five-year-old child would be fully responsible for washing themselves and their clothing unsupervised and uncriticized. Her manner was very adult-like and I wondered what other responsibilities were hers at this farm-based home.