by Frances T. '19
Today is a lazy Sunday, dedicated to spending time with friends and family. Mabelis, my host mom, cooked a late breakfast at 7:30 am, though she’d been awake since five. My two sisters spent the morning with their father, who lives in another town and stops by every so often. My mom and her sister cooked and cleaned all morning and they taught me how they wash their clothes here. In the village, women play a central role in the family; I have yet to see a man who runs a household and takes care of the children.
This is especially clear in my household of all women. There doesn’t seem to be a need for men in the house, or if there was my mom has managed to effectively fill this role in addition to her own. She also took on the responsibility of caring for me. Mabelis is content extending her generosity; she is curious about my life even though she has so little time for herself. I rarely see her tend to her own needs, as she spends all of her time caring for her girls.
These two girls are not an easy task. Karen Lorena Salgado de la Rosa and Katty Salgado de la Rosa (these are their full names, as Karen took the computer and refused to return it unless she was taught how to type the names of her and her sister), are crazy and wonderful. They love to learn; today Kari (her nickname) asked me to teach her everything about being a doctor I know, and yesterday she wanted to know all about the different countries of the world. They are two of the happiest kids I have ever met.
At 6 years old, she probably has no idea about the reality of being a woman here. Unless she is extremely dedicated or exceptionally smart, she will probably not go to college. In fact, she may not even enroll in high school. Women know long before college that they will most likely end up back in the village, married, and raising kids. Surrounded by intelligent and capable young women, this has been a hard thing for me to wrap my head around; my American morals have taught me to condemn the deep-rooted sexism that causes this cycle. However, the women of P____ do not seem restricted, instead they seem empowered. My mom likes to laugh hard, spend time with her family, and care for her kids. She is happy, and from what I can tell most women here are. Someone is restricted if opportunities are taken away from them; the women here appear to have created communities and families that provide everything they could possibly need. The ability to take care of oneself, alongside the values of strength and curiosity, are engrained in the women here. Many are leaders, dedicated mothers, and beloved role models. The roles that they fill within the community appear to be their choice, not their obligation. I’m excited to continue spending time around such incredible women.