21 March 2011
I was conducting a meeting with a women's co-operative in Bongo district. The co-operative is engaged in processing of Shea butter. The discussions were centered on hardships associated with collection and processing of Shea nuts. The discussions were lively and what I liked the most, while interacting with the women, was that the usual tone for asking some funds for helping them was not there at all. These hard working women expressed their need for capital however. Since I am not engaged in any kind of project but conducting the value chain study, I could not promise them anything. When I asked for a group picture they happily agreed and immediately organized themselves for it. That was real cohesive Asungtaaba. Asungtaaba means let's work together. It is a traditional association of women where they come together in a group and help each other in various tasks which include farming, collection of firewood, Shea nut collection and processing etc.
After seeing them organized for the snap, I just clicked it. One of the women told me afterwards that they were ready then. I told them that I have already clicked the photo. She argued, “But you did not tell us to smile. How can that be a good picture?” I said, “Okay. Let me take one more snap again.” I said this thinking that it was going to cost me nothing to take that extra picture on my digital camera and there was no point in argument. This time before clicking the picture, I said loudly, “all smile please!” and everybody became ready in their best smiles.
Afterwards while looking at both the pictures; I realized how much difference does a smile makes. In the first picture, all the hardships in the life can be seen on those serious faces. The second picture with all smiling shows that these hardships can be overcome and very small moments can be really enjoyed to bring the happiness in life.