Meet Selva. She is the mother of one, grandmother of two and caretaker of ten.
Every morning after shuffling kids through a bare doorframe and stowing away mattresses from the night before, she prays among her piglets for yet another quiet and peaceful day. And then, the 64-year-old brushes herself off and gets to work.
To Selva, happiness doesn’t come from the few sales of honey each week that provide a much needed income boost. It doesn’t come in the form of rainwater she manages to collect that is the envy of many neighbors. Nor is it promises from government that conditions will soon improve in the small indigenous town of Ibiato where she lives.
“Happiness is living peacefully with your spouse and children. It is having everything under one roof and not living divided.”
And that is exactly what she has. Seven people live in her single room shack, which also doubles as a soda, a snack shop, where she sells cold Coca Cola and sugar cane sweets. And while it may be due to the fact her community is split between those speaking Spanish and those that preserve their native language Sirionó, or the fact that she lived years away from her family while they tried their hand at life in a larger city, Selva is determined to keep unity in the household.
“To be even happier I need a bigger house to keep them here as they grow!” she laughs.
Just twenty more jars of honey to sell and her tacuara (bamboo) house renovation will be underway.