January 6, 2016
A Day’s Work
- as seen by -Julie Larsen Maher
Tucked away in Ambatolampy, a small town in central Madagascar, is a traditional manufacturing center for aluminum rice pots.
Stepping inside feels like stepping back in time. Rather than a high speed production line, 10 Malagasy men and women work in a yard surrounded by one-room buildings and produce about 40 rice pots a day. The pots are used all around the country for day-to-day life.
It is a labor-intensive job. The melting of metal and making of the pots is assigned only to men. They work in extreme heat with no electricity or water—and no shoes. Their faces are etched with remnants of the day’s work.
A pot is complete in minutes; still hot to the touch, it moves onto the finishing building where the women are allowed to work. Rough edges are rasped or sawed off. The finishing room is considered less physical and better adapted to a woman’s role, although this work looks to be equally difficult. The 54-year old woman who is the lead finisher of the rice pots is petite, except for her biceps. After 20 years of sawing edges off lids and pots, her arm muscles are larger than those of a professional athlete.
Madagascar is a global conservation priority. The Wildlife Conservation Society works with local communities throughout the country to ensure the conservation of the island’s unique floral and faunal diversity.