Last week I went out to the village with Betty’s mother. I was so happy when a few months back she proudly told me that she planted a field of ground nuts (same as peanuts) for me to appreciate all that I was doing for their family. She has had a very entitled mindset and is constantly asking (nearly demanding) money, food, rent, medicine, etc… This was the first sign of a change in attitude and I was really pleased. Until a few weeks later when she told me that my g-nuts needed weeding and I had better go do that. Oh. Not nearly so pleased anymore. I told her I couldn’t weed them as I didn’t have the time to drive the 100+ km out to the field and spend several days weeding a field I didn’t actually want responsibility for. Well, that is what I tried to tell her but as she doesn’t actually speak English I’m not sure what she got. I didn’t hear of it again until last week I was told that my g-nuts were going to spoil if I didn’t go out and harvest them. Great. I knew I was being manipulated but after pondering it for a day I decided to just embrace it and see what came. I promised them transport out to the village (which can be costly). I also made it crystal clear I would NOT be staying until the harvest was done. I would work with them for a day and whatever was left they would be harvesting and keeping for themselves.
The morning I promised to take them I got a call at 6:30am telling me it was time to go. Well, I wasn’t ready. I was still running and was going to have breakfast before spending the day in the village. Honestly, I started off the day with a bad attitude. I was providing free transport- we would go when I said we would. I had told them 8am. I wish I was going to report that the day got better, or at least my attitude improved but I can’t really. It was quite a bit further than they led me to believe and we drove for almost two hours. Then we got to the field and I discovered that it had never been weeded. Ever. The field was really big but the harvest was going to be pretty poor. And the work was going to be hard. We arrived and they all looked at me. So I grabbed a hoe and started up-rooting. They let me do this for a bit before her sons took the hoe from me and assigned me the woman’s work of removing the nuts from the plants. So I pitched my tarp in the shade and gathered all those who rode out with me who weren’t wielding a hoe. Janet- a neighbor girl, Agnes- another girl, Joyce- her youngest daughter, Emmanuel and Benjamin- her younger sons. Philip- her oldest son, was digging.
We talked while we worked and that time was good. But I was also frustrated when 2 rolled around and all the kids said they were hungry (me too!!) and looked to me instead of their mother. I don’t bring food when I go to the village because they always provide food. But Betty’s mother was nowhere to be found and there was no one cooking food. So Philip started a fire and we roasted g-nuts. Around 4pm rain clouds started to blow up and it looked like a good storm was coming. I started to load my truck up and figure out which kids were staying to work and which ones were going back to Soroti with me. Betty’s mother reappeared and asked if I was leaving. We had done nearly 6 hours of work with a lunch of peanuts, I figured we were done for the day. She didn’t seem so happy. Ask me how she was getting home. I relented and left her $ for transport back and even more $ to hire some people to help her finish the work over the next few days. (2,000 shillings- less than $1- is paid per basin of nuts harvested. I had managed about 1 per hour with several easily distracted kids helping me.) I was hot, dirty and tired and don’t know if that was the right thing or not. Just today I got a call from her asking me to come back and pick her up. Clearly the money is gone. I don’t know when or how she is going to come back but her daughters are less stressed when she around so maybe she should just stay out there for a while. That is a terrible attitude but I feel so angry at her.
|Little , 2 year old Benjamin might have been the hardest worker. The rest liked to just sit around.|
|The weeds were taller than the boys.|
|Philip making the soil soft enough to pull plants.|
|Pulling the nuts from the plant.|
|Fire seared nuts for lunch.|
|Building a fire to cook "lunch"|