Women of Malawi

The water draws them, heavy from sleep and the previous day’s work, back to her again.

Women carry plastic buckets filled with laundry to the lakeshore.  Soon they will return; the same buckets now heaving with dishes from the morning meal.  A seemingly endless scrubbing, bending, sweeping, back aching flow of a day.

They work at sun up and are still working after the sun sinks below the horizon.  Their children splash happily and wave mischievously at foreigners that pass by.

With our sunscreen, backpacks, and cameras, we can only be here for leisure.

The men – maybe fishing.  Some carving or sewing wares to sell.  Others probably away from home in search of work, sending home their earnings.  But still some lounging and gabbing on the beach.

No wonder the women greet us with passing skeptical looks.  Annoyed glances before training their eyes once again on their task at hand.

“A man’s work is from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never finished.”

I have neither the means to communicate nor a way to lighten their loads.  I don’t seek to intrude or offend; though my camera probably suggests otherwise.  Still, a desire to capture and honor their strength and relentless work ethic burns bright within me.

And so I traded a camera for a paintbrush.

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