It’s been three days here in Agora, and I have seen how hard women work in this small community. These women are very different from any other women I have known in my life. They are incredibly skillful and hardworking. They are able to carry a large basket on their backs and travel miles and miles away from their village everyday. Here, women work both in fields and at home. They have to go to very steep hills to collect woods and grasses, and carry them home to have wood for fire or to feed their livestock. Seeing these women makes me realize how lucky I am to have this easy and comfortable life.
I was able to see and experience the roles of women in this community from my host family. Maya, my host mother, has two beautiful daughters and lives with her husband, her in-laws and her daughters in a two story house. Maya was originally from Corbett National Park and married a man from Agora. Due to tradition, Maya has to follow her husband and lives in Agora. Their house is divided into two floors where the bottom part is for the livestock and the top is where they live. Maya is the most beautiful, kind and loving person I have ever met. I spent two times in a day to eat meals in her house, but I barely saw her downstairs. She was either in the kitchen preparing delicious meals for us or down on the farm.
The first day I arrived in Agora, I went straight to her house to have lunch. Her husband asked if I wanted to learn how to make chapati and he led me to their kitchen in the attic. My first expression when I went to the kitchen was “Wow, how is she cooking in this tiny area using her wood stove with only one window for the smoke?” It was so hard for me to breathe and my eyes kept watering from the smoke. After learning how to make chapati (even though I am so bad at it after so many tries) we came down to sit on the terrace and to have lunch. Eating the delicious meals while watching the view of waterfall from her house gave me the feeling of home. Maya and her family kindly welcomed us into their family. The hospitality that this family gave to me was incredibly amazing. She prepared more and more food for us and I have never been as full as I was in Agora!
After serving us lunch, Maya travels down the hills, far from her house, to work on her farm. She would carry a basketful of compost down to the farm. On the farm, she cuts all extra weeds and clears away rocks. She would do this 2-3 times a day. On my last day in Agora, I helped her on the farm. The walk down to the farm was easy-peasy until we had to get back to her house and that’s where it got ugly. My legs felt like they were about to scramble into pieces like puzzle. Maya and other women in Agora have inspired me and taught me about how hard life is. However, no matter how hard it is, she is always smiled and never complained.
If I had to describe these women in one word, there will be no word that could describe them. Even strong words are not enough, because their hard work and skills are indescribable. I am beyond grateful to learn and experience the lives of women in Agora.