Wednesday, March 24, 2010
This is Rita. She is the house Meri from next door and often drops in for one reason or another. She speaks excellent english so helps to translate between Janet and i! She made this Bilum for LMS for her birthday, and don't they both look pleased about it!
Bilum's are made and used as purses as well as market and shopping bags. They are not exclusively for women and you often see men with a bilum around their neck. This Bilum has the pattern that is reserved for 'boss man'. But it is acceptable for the wife of the boss and his off spring to sport it! Rita is making on for LL and then one for myself. She insists they are a gift and wont take money but i negotiated to pay for the materials so i gave her 5 kina, which is about $2 to cover the yarn. The wages here are very poor, although the nationals that work for this company are paid higher than most others. They earn about 5 dollars a day.
Rita told me the story of her first son. When she was 15 she was walking in her village and came across a woman who was being beaten. She was pregnant and her family were unhappy about it, they were so poor they couldn't afford to feed another mouth. Their intention was to kill her by hanging her. Rita stopped them and cut the rope down. She told them she would take the woman to her home and her family would look after her and take the baby. So when the woman had the baby Rita's family gave her some money and the woman left, leaving behind a baby boy for Rita to care for. As she had no breast milk, every morning she would climb the coconut tree for a green coconut and feed the baby the fresh coconut milk. I still can't believe the story, she is a pretty amazing lady. She is now married and they have 2 more boys, also adopted. The boys are grown and are now all off at boarding school. Pretty much all of Rita and her husbands wages go to paying the school fees, and they scrape by with whatever they have left. Schooling here is expensive and only those with money can afford it, even then, families often go without food to ensure they can pay the fees.