Sri Lankan girls

As in all peasant societies, agriculture is very much a family affair. Every member of the village has specific duties. One drives marauding monkeys from the rice paddies; another looks after the cattle and water buffaloes. Some help their fathers in the fields, while others collect fire wood with their mothers. Yet others help with the cooking and milking of the cattle.

Girls spend their time with their mothers and aunts helping with all the chores: the tending of the fields and the making of mats. Our mothers keep the hearth warm and this is the centre of every home. Thus, in Sri Lankan homes the mother takes first place.

Our houses are built close to each other. In this way, a minimum amount of land is wasted. This arrangement also favours the essential cooperation amongst us. Since each village community consists of relatives, one woman looks after all the children when the other adults are busy working in the fields or maintaining the wewas.

There is also the tradition of mutual help, or kaiya, within each village; we can rely upon each other to help with pressing, day-to-day chores and, more important still, with the onerous agricultural tasks.

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