This morning my mind is in The Solomon Islands as there has been a tsunami alert after an strong earthquakes. I look to the map and hope Isabel Island is far enough form the Santa Cruz islands for my family to be safe.
Like if it was yesterday: A day in Nareabu…
6:00 The church keeper beats on an empty gas canister hanging from a breadfruit tree. The Fihu family rise quickly, put on their church clothes and quietly join the other members of the community crossing the open field in the centre of Nareabu Village. In the church, Nareabu’s only cement building, one of the women lets out a high, piercing cry, the first not of the morning psalm. ….
Selwyn’s wife was chosen for him by his uncle. He admits that he was nervous before they were introduced, so he hiked through the forest’s plantations up to her mountain to look at her through the branches of the trees. He was happy with what he saw. Agnes has always been very shy and never attended school. Even now, she avoids speaking Pidgin english. Selwyn says: “With an uneducated woman, you are sure you will always have food to eat and a mat to sleep on.” But Selwyn insists on education for his sons and his daughters, and will let them choose their own marriage partners.
Read about the Fihu family in the link that brings you to the pdf
Working, writing and producing in two languages is a timely exercise. Each language is a philosophy, a humor, a poetry that seems to move something else within me. It brings another world to reach and to talk to, other tones, other colors. I post on Facebook and want to speak to the world and two languages are not enough. Sometimes, because of this, I go into silence.
I had a friend who would stutter in French and did not in English. I have since seen the roads in my brain. Languages and people I have visited on this planet have added roads. Each day I need to the time to review them before deciding the road to take. It takes still a moment of silence.
This first book that speaks of the identification of a few roads I will mend and improve as I write about the inner journey Humanity has brought me on. As I finish the English version, I want to start new the French version. Getting to know the world is a life journey as it is one without and within.
You can now get the first chapter free with your registration on the website: http://humanspace.net
This way I will let you know when the e-book and the book are available.
Enjoy the words and the silences,
The earlier they reach the tobacco fields the more tobacco will be picked and the more money they will earn for their family. Three quarters of the Leka family’s income will be earned during the next two months. Eugenia does not make it onto the first bus this morning, as she usually does. She waits, knowing she will have to work faster in order to come home with her usual harvest of 450 kilos.
The harvest chief walks beside his jeep parked in the middle of the square watching to make sure all workers are picked up. A second bus takes Eugenia and the children for a twenty minute bumpy ride, backfiring as it climbs the small hills overlooking the Nistru river. They are dropped off at the edge of a tobacco plantation where a few man wait to give them orders for the day. Ninety-five percent of the tobacco pickers are women. The supervisors are all men. “It would be impossible to work if we were supervised by women,” says Eugenia adding “We would fight.”
Each family group gathers in front of the rows they have been assigned, unroll the bags and put on their working clothes. Eugenia moves through the plants like a thief, quickly pulling the leaves of two rows at a time. Behind her, is 15 year old Andrei, a slower version of his mother and behind him comes Mariana, picking one row at the time. At 12 year old Mariana is tiny, and she does not have the strength to pull the leave as fast as the others. Mariana repeats the movements her mother, grandmother and great grandmother did at her age. Tobacco is a traditional crop in the region and as guaranteed the peasants and income long before the farms where collectivized.
Eugenia’s father remembers when the Russians came with their communist ideas, sending – small scale landowners with a few farmers working for them – to the gulags of Siberia or to death. He remembers how they came to his house and intimidated his father into handing over the papers to his few hectares. But he does not criticize the old system. Even though saying terrible things happened, at least he succeeded in giving his children a roof over their heads and to feed them well. “ Today, when I look back and think of how things used to be, it looks good”, he says. “Now there are only four of us still at home and we can hardly manage.”
Where is Yokohama, Japan
Back in 1986, in the Matsuo family…
Takako, feels responsible for her children’s future, and she measures her worth by their success. She believes her nurturing and encouraging them will instil in her children the confidence and self-worth necessary to survive the rigors of their educational life.
That day, at 7h30, after dinner, Takako removes the cover from the bathtub. The water she ran one hour before is still hot. After she and the two children shower, they sit in the tub to relax and talk. This daily ritual (part of a relationship the Japanese call ‘skinship’) will last until the children reach puberty and their teenage shyness prevails. In hot water up to their necks, Takako and her children chat. ‘Closer to the body, closer to the soul,’ explains Takako. She adds, ‘Often, children have worries which are difficult for them to talk about. When we are all naked in the bath, what they feel in their hearts comes out.’
Takako, are you well you and your children? I know of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear accident. My heart and spirit are with you.
Anton, Ellen, Maretta and Freda Molnes live in Skodje, Norway. What was life like for Ellen, a physiotherapist, at the begining of the 1990s?
At the clinic Ellen takes half an hour for a sandwich and a coffee. She listens to her colleague speak of the future. She wants to go back to Oslo, the capital. She came here so she would raise her children in nature, so that they would grow up to be healthy in body and spirit, away from the problems young people face in the cities. This will leave Ellen as the only physiotherapist, with even more work. But she will not be alone to take care of the small population. There are two doctors, one dentist and one podiatrist for the town’s population.
Ellen likes ot research her work and find ways to better serve her patients. New methods are now combining psychotherapy with motor physiotherapy. What goes on in the mind is what interests her the most. Ellen is in constant search of the inner self, her way to live her life on earth, her life as a mother and wife. She wants to learn and triest o go further. Sometimes Ellen feels alone, seeing her family going their way and not sharing with them as much as she would like them to. “My mother is too serious, and asks too many questions,” says teenage Maritta. Maritta leaves the house whenever possible, and closes the door to her bedroom when she is home.
No matter where in the world, teenagers want to distance themselves from their parents. At least in this family, the children have taken up the burden of housecleaning.
When Maretta comes home from school, her brother is going back and forth between the television, watching the Norwegian Olympic team, and back to his room, playing a game of chess on the computer. Maretta changes out of her school clothes and calls her brother out of his room. Today is Friday, and the children have the task of cleaning the house. Freda will vacuum the floors and Marate will wash the kitchen tiles. The house is always clean. “My father-in-law always says I am a good wife for his son, mainly because I keep the house clean,” says Ellen. Anton’s brother, on the other hand, has a wife who considers other things in life more important than house cleaning. For that, she is judged harshly. “This is how it has always been here, and this is how women are judged”. People’s mentalities aren’t changing quickly enough for Ellen’s taste.
Ellen says she is much more relaxed about housework than she used to be. “I have other things to do, and if something is out of its place, I do not get up to fix it any more. I have decided to relax about this matter.”
Excerpt from the book “Families of the World: East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific”
9 am – “Ritang, take the baby,” says Grandmother. She goes to sit in front of her old rotting house and starts weaving pandanu leaves. Her own house badly needs repairs, but the leaves she weaves this morning are for the maneaba, the village’s large meeting house, where all decisions are made, in the presence of the elders.
10 am – Bakea goes to the maneaba with her neighbour, both women pulling their piece of leaf work for the roof repairs. A week from now, the whole population of Tabiteuea South, the neighbouring island, will visit in their canoes, and Tab North is getting ready for the great event.
In the village of Utiroa, the whole community answers the call to take care of the community house. This is the group’s central space, where meetings and celebrations are held. The Pacific island of Kiribati is one of the most threatened by rising seawater levels. All these people, working to build up their community, what have they become?
Josef and Laila Buljo, reindeer herders, raise their children, (Anne Laila, Risten and Aslak) in Norway. They are serious about educating them within Sami culture. They are raising them to be free and teaching them to discuss everything. In Sami society male and female roles are clearly defined to make sure the families can be self-sufficient.
During the summers, when the sun never sets, the women work hard to ready their familes for winter. Laila scrapes reindeer hides clean; she will use the skin and the fur to make her family’s winter boots. She teaches her daughers women’s work; how to cure fur and skin and turn them into clothes and boots, how to sew traditional embroidered dresses, and how to smoke and cook reindeer meat.
The Sami people are fighting hard to keep their culture alive, feeling that if they do not, it is just a matter of a generation or so before their history and traditions will be forgotten.
Their traditions include letting children decide when they will go to bed. With the days that never end and the nights that never end, both children and adults sleep when they feel the need. “If we make our children go to bed at the same time every day, what would we do when we have to work day and night during reindeer carving time?”, the children’s grandmother, Kristine, asks. “We would become the slave of our children, but it is the children who must follow our lives.”