In the community where Keila lives, she and her partner do better than many, but that does not mean they are wealthy or that things are easy for them.
With two able adults to provide income, they have a distinct advantage over many of their neighbors. Keila’s partner sells, Atoles, a hot drink with a corn base, and makes 1,000 lempiras a week. He works 11 hours a day. Although typical for many in this part of the world, these earnings pale in comparison to that of any individual in America. His wage is equivalent to $42 a week–what someone working at the lowest minimum wage in America would make in less than one 8-hour day, and what someone with an average American salary would make in less than two hours of work.
Keila occasionally is able to work harvesting sweet potatoes in the field. When she does, she adds approximately $29 to their weekly income–a significant amount.
They also have chickens that provide them with a sustainable food source–something anyone in the community would be grateful to have.
Looking at their home, you would never know they are among the more prosperous of their community in terms of their income.
The home is a compilation of various materials. The walls are part sheet metal, part sticks, rocks and dirt.
Used cotton sheets make up parts of the walls, as well as part of the roof. Their floor is dirt. As is typical of homes in the area, their home has no electricity, no water and no latrine.
Possibly the greatest challenge with the home concerns the family’s 4-year old daughter, who suffers from respiratory issues.
Though the house in which they live is better than nothing, they practically live out in the open. Their home is sorely lacking when it comes to providing protection from environmental elements. The area in which the family lives is windy which generates a great amount of dust.
The dust, along with smoke from cooking their daily meals on an open wood stove, exacerbates the breathing issues, from which her daughter suffers. Exposure to the cold night air does not help either. Creating an environment conducive to healthy respiration is a nearly impossible task in these conditions.
Among the many concerns Keila is likely to have, her daughter’s health issues may be the greatest. She has already known the depth of sorrow that comes with losing children. Before her daughter was born, Keila lost a set of twins when she was 6 months pregnant.
Though only 23-years old, an age at which time when many Americans are living life large, finding themselves, and planning for their future, Keila’s face reflects the difficulties of life and the loss she has experienced.
Keila says her life is happy, and she truly does find great joy in her daughter, but happiness is not reflected in her face. If Keila had the resources, she would save up for medication for her daughter and start a business selling bread. Both desires would improve the conditions of her life, but most likely, only minimally. Those wishes might generate a reflection of happiness to her face, but if they did not, they would certainly minimize the strain of her impoverished living.
Written by Shalyce Cluff; Photography by Jose Miguel Amaya