Arumoham is 62 years old. A grand mother, she is separated from her husband and lives with her daughter who is a widow, and a mother of three children. Arumoham is the bread-winner in this family of four. I met her during my visit to Wakarei. She is a working woman, a farmer and a fisher-woman who works to ensure that her daughter and her grand-children are fed two meals per day.
Working to take care of grand-children
She farms vegetables such as chili, and pumpkin in her garden. She says she has not received a formal training as to how agriculture needs to be done, but does is based on the knowledge she has received over generations. She believes that new technology and teaching is not as good as the knowledge she has received. She has no time to go for trainings or capacity building session she says, nor women’s meetings. She has to take care of her grand-children among whom is a child with special needs. She works so that the boy could be taken care of, along with his two sisters who are in their teens.
Unpredictable weather and farming
Her agricultural activities are not the easy. There is scarcity of water in the region, and the water they have is from wells that they pump to use for their farming. She says that weather patterns have changed, and the rains that fall much harsher than before damage the crops. I ask her how she puts up with the damage when the plants are destroyed from heavy rains. She says that they have to start from scratch. She does not believe in loans, nor insurance. She prefers to starve than be troubled by her creditors she says.
“I will not take loans from anyone. I would rather die of hunger than have someone come and harass me over money I owe. They do not bother to check on us when we are dying, but come and ask us to return the money three times a day.”
Fishing with her bare hands
Her farm brings around 3000 to 4000 rupees a month she says. She is not entirely sure of the income made. They make use of the crops for their food, while selling some of it to gain an income. As the income does not suffice, she goes to catch prawns in the evening. She shows me how she catches them with her bare hands, and earn an additional 300 rupees for her grand-children. It is a daily routine, and she stays in the waters from 6- 9pm every evening.
Hopes for the future
Like many others living in the region, she wants to see a better life for her grandchildren. She wants them to be able to gain jobs in the public sector. “I want them to have a government job when they grow up,” she says.
Arumoham has faced a lot in her life. Having left her home in 2005, abandoning most of what she had built in life, she has returned to the same area and now is trying to build a life again, for her children and her grandchildren who depend on her.