|Carmelita de Jesus carries 15-20 litres of water up a hill 4 times a day – backbreaking work.|
© UNICEF Timor-Leste/2015/Dmonemnasi
I immediately asked her if I could join to see where she collected the water. She nodded in agreement but then came a gentle warning. “You can, but be careful, the trail is steep and difficult,” she said with a slightly mischievous smile.
It took 10 minutes to reach the spring at the end of a steep and rocky path that had been beaten by the steps of many others over the years. Once we arrived, we met other women – and only women – collecting water and washing clothes.
Carmelita lives with her husband and six children in one of the most remote mountain villages in Timor Leste, Mapeop aldeias in Bobonaro district. For most people, the village is only accessible by foot or on horseback. In dry season, four-wheel drive vehicles can reach with some difficulty, and it takes about two hours from the nearest town on a good day.