Harvest time in Malawi
The chatter and laughter of people working in the fields floats on the breeze. It’s harvest time in Malawi.
They’re collecting rice, picking the stalks and then beating them against the ground to dislodge the grains of rice, sifting through what has fallen off to remove the dust and bits of debris.
They smile and laugh, calling for me to take photos as they work, then beaming when I turn the camera around to show them the picture.
The excitement and merriment aside, I noticed an underlying urgency in their actions. Though every harvest is an important one, this one is even more so. The crops last year were poor and the rains sparse. Tales of thieves coming in the night to harvest the fields under the shroud of darkness are common; some farmers have taken to sleeping in their fields to guard the grain. The crops determine how easy or hard the next year will be for them.
Photographically, I found the harvesters to be a captivating subject. I’ve always loved the bright, colourful patterns of the women’s chitenges and the way they contrasted against the crops. Though is was the colour that drew me to the fields, what made me linger was the women themselves.
The practiced precision in their deft movements, their hands remembering this task they had done thousands of times before.
The strength of those who carried a child on their back and rice in their arms.
The joy as they joked and sang with one another.
The way they welcomed me into their circle without reservation.
The generosity shown by the woman who handed me a bundle of rice when I was leaving.
They are beautiful, these women, from their well-worn feet to their calloused hands to their smiling eyes.
They are strong, these women, not just physically but from the long hours they work to ensure their families will not go hungry.
I am thankful for the short time I was able to spend with these women and pray that one day they will know their Creator.