When the day is almost done a woman would feel satisfied and happy and perhaps whistle a happy tune even. But some women's chores are not yet done as they have a few more tasks to do: take the kids for a good wash and do the laundry in a nearby almost dried up stream. And the stream is 10 minutes' walk away. It is drought time and one of the most difficult periods of women's life in any ulu longhouse context (where there is no government supplied piped water).
Here I caught a family group on their way to the stream nearby their longhouse. The family has to save the rainwater for the most important tasks of cooking and keeping their house clean. Any washing or bathing have to be done in the almost dried up stream about 10 minutes' walk from the long house.
The women are cheerful in spite of their challenges in life. While women all over the world in better economies fight for equal rights in education and corporate promotions our longhouse sisters are still able to smile (for not knowing any better) and be of good cheer when water is only available through natural forces - God willing they will have rain soon.
But with global warming looming up they may have to adjust to scientific explanations and environmentalists' predictions.
Although it is already in their lifestyle to buy bottled water for their children to bring to their primary and secondary schools which are also running out of water supply these women are still hopeful that when the drought is over they will have plenty of water again.
If their local(political) representatives are sensitive enough to their needs of the present moment these longhouse folks should be able to receive water provided by mobile water storage tanks. And they will have to learn to queue up for with their jerry cans for a few gallons of Government Provision which they have seen on TV about India and Africa. Many long house folks still cannot believe that water would be in real shortage in Sarawak! May God bless them with clean water supply. And may their life be a little easier.
Photo one: family group going to the stream.
Photo two: Going towards the stream further down the road without any complaints at all. God willing - they accept their fate.
Photo three : a cheerful little girl giving the victory sign. How happy she is being with her family! Going to bathe in a stream is a daily adventure - not a challenge perhaps.