We walked to the river carrying everything we needed to do the laundry…from the bundles of clothes and wash basins balanced on top of our heads, the bars of soap, the pot of rice, bananas and other food we will cook and eat while we wait for the warm sun to dry the clothes on the rocks.
This was laundry day when I was a kid and lived in the province (away from the city). Since my younger sister and I were still little, we played and splashed in the water while the other women in our household went about the task of washing clothes.
Fast forward decades later, I am back to the Philippines, and while stopped over a bridge to take in the view, I look below and see a scene from my childhood…women washing clothes by the river.
I am nostalgic and remember the fun we had playing in the river during laundry day — rearranging rocks to form our own little swimming pools and creating dams to capture fish and freshwater shrimps.
Then I thought, wait….I am a grandmother now…why are these women STILL doing laundry this way?
My take on this week’s WordPress photo challenge are photos about something we share as modern humans..that is, we all wear clothes, and these clothes need to be washed.
How we go about doing laundry though is a symbol of how developed the area is where we live, and how much time is available to women.
Here in the US, over 80% of households have clothes washers (even almost a decade ago, based on the these stats from the US Department of Energy):
For poor households, over 60% still had clothes washers…and anyone can go to laundromat to wash clothes.
We take for granted the clean running water we have access to, and the machines that liberate us from tedious tasks, like washing clothes.
How often is this scene still repeated around the world daily? Imagine how liberated human beings — particularly women — can be, simply by having a machine that we take for granted here in the US.
It may not be something we ever think about, but to me, how laundry is done around the world is an indicator of progress.
And the work towards eradicating poverty worldwide — so that everyone has access to the tools, and yes, machinery — to allow us more time to live a good life and express ourselves is part of what defines our humanity.
To see beautiful humanity inspired photographs and other imaginative takes on the challenge, visit the WordPress Photo Challenge Site.
For more on why I think there is still so much poverty in my home country of the Philippines, see my post Chameleons: Why Filipinos live and work in just about every country in the world.