Encouraging my boys to be better

Before dawn breaks, Pikwo Felly a 55-year-old mother of eight,is up at 6:30 a.m.to her daily routine. She cleans the compound, walks1.5 km away to fetch water, prepares mealsfor her household members that include her elderly mother and then heads off to the gardenwith her husband where they spend about five hours tilling the land. With a load of firewood on her head, Felly will normally walk the familiar road back home alone with two hoes in hand as her husband does not immediately return home after the garden work.

Although Felly’s children have been a great help during this lockdown, often helping with cooking while she goes to the garden, her workload has remained high since the demand for food and other household resources like firewood and water has become higher compared to before the lockdown where the children were always at school.

Felly has never expected her husband to help with domestic work and the lockdown did not bring new hopes. “Is there any Man in Alur land who does care work?” She asks.

“I am even grateful that he allows the children, especially the boys to help me do care work such as cleaning the compound and washing utensils otherwise domestic care work is for me as the wife and the girls.”

  • Although Felly knows care work is her role, she does not believe that is how it is supposed to be. “I think leaving all this work to the women exhausts them and they age faster. I feel that I have become weaker with the years and it’s because of the work I have had to do alone. Because I do not want my children to end up the same, I have used this lockdown period to encourage them to do the house chores, but also talk to the boys about the value of helping at home.

    Felly thinks that if she did not have a heavy workload on her plate, she would be engaging more in farming for income. For now, she relies on her husband for anything that requires money, but this never comes in timely or regularly she says.

    “I also think the domestic work would not be as hard if I did not have to walk miles looking for water and firewood which makes me so tired.”

    Her biggest worry right now is the future of her children whose education has been interrupted by COVID-19 pandemic. “Even as I do my daily work, I just wonder when the children will be able to return to school.I want a different life for them, especially my girls who could get married off if they stay out of school.”