working women

Laughter and stories. Clanging metal tools. As I approached the outdoor shelter that is the small biosand filter factory, I wanted to join the work so that I could be a part of this team of women. Their job is to make biosand filters several days a week – the small “factory” needed to increase their output, and these particular women had proven their skill and work ethic in recent trainings. Extra income for the women, extra output for the factory, and more people with safe drinking water in their homes. A good day.

Each one of these women has a story that deserves to be told. But today I only have time to tell you about one, Dainess. She is 25 years old, is married, and has three young children. She has an engaging smile, can read lips in Bemba, the local language, and writes basic English. Our conversation began with me writing, “My name is Pamela. What is your name?” Then the other women joined our conversation and simple sign language combined with lip reading took over. I am hesitant to say it, because I do not want Dainess to be categorized and put in a box, but she is deaf-mute. I dislike labels and boxes because they evoke specific emotions that might or might not be appropriate. Here, Dainess’s deafness is part of who she is, but does not define her. Instead it is her family, her smile, her work ethic and her interaction with her peers that tell us about her character. Given the opportunity, I would choose to work beside her and hope that she would want to be my friend.

This entry was written for Blood:Water Mission. Check them out at

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