What does life look like for a girl in the high plateaus of Bolivia? Meet 11-year-old Flora from Ravelo, a community in the southern highlands. Her home is a 20-minute journey up a hill. Flora is the fourth of 10 children. The family are split between two small adobe houses, which they use as bedrooms, kitchen and a storehouse. They don’t have electricity, water or a sewer system.
Like most rural communities, children in Ravelo start chores at young ages to help their families. The family cooks with firewood, and collecting it is Flora’s first chore of the day. She’s on vacation from school but she has a busy day ahead of her.
Flora wakes to the sound of the rooster’s cry. She rushes down to the river to wash her face.
At around 6:00 a.m., she heads back to find firewood. Sometimes she carries it in a bundle up with rope, or in an aguayo, the colorful cloth women use to carry many things: their babies, their food, their purchases and more.
On the days Flora hunts for firewood, she takes a snack to eat, usually potatoes. She covers long distances, often not returning home until noon. The mornings she doesn’t collect firewood, she has a late breakfast with her family. They usually eat potato or corn soup. Potatoes are staple of their diet: most families grow the vegetable because it grows well in cold weather.
Lunch is usually boiled corn or more potatoes.
After resting or playing with her siblings, Flora’s next chore is to sort the potatoes with her siblings. Potatoes are sold according to their size because different sizes have different uses.
At around 3:00 p.m., Flora leaves to graze the sheep. She carries a slingshot to keep them from straying and to ward other animals away from the flock. On the outskirts of Ravelo, her sheep have large areas to graze, so Flora walks long distances.
When she returns, she doesn’t seem tired. She’s used to these chores. If there is still sunlight, she hurries to do her homework outside before it gets too dark to see.
It’s almost nightfall, but there’s still time for one more chore. Seated on a rock, Flora mills the dried corn using a batan. A batan has been used for hundreds of years in Bolivia and can be found in most homes. The kitchen utensil is made up of a flat stone and a grinding stone. Flora rocks the grinding stone over the corn on the flat stone to mill it into a fine powder. Her family uses this to make corn flour soup. For dinner, the family usually has soup or potatoes once again.
It’s ten o’clock at night. After her busy day of chores, Flora is ready for bed. She’s looking forward to attending her Compassion child development centre, which she visits twice a week. “I like to go to the centre because I play with my friends and I eat tasty food,” she says.
Thanks to her being sponsored through Compassion, her family also receives food baskets with nutritious food such as milk, yogurt, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables, which they usually can’t afford.
Tonight, she goes to sleep feeling tired but happy.
October 11 is the International Day of the Girl Child.
You can give a girl everything she needs to overcome poverty today.
Photos and field reporting by Galia Oropeza. Written by Galia Oropeza, with Alyssa Esparaz.