The small prop plane bounced above the clouds as we flew over swathes of dense jungle. Rivers red with soil and silt cut through the forests of green and small roads wound round the edge of the impenetrable jungle.
We landed with a bump in a dusty track not much larger than a football field. Rows of smiling faces peered at us as we stepped off the plane, the children bouncing and grinning, half-hidden in the tall grass lining the runway.
A while later we were on a path winding its way through the tall elephant grass which swayed in the wind, several feet above our heads. The sun was high in the sky now and beamed down upon our faces as we followed the village chief out to the fields.
Agriculture here is a woman’s work, explained our guide, the men clear the field at the start, but it is for the women to plant, weed, maintain the field and reap the harvest at the end. We met a woman with a handful of peanuts from her field, who explained that she had never seen such a large harvest.
When she returned to her home village having fled the conflict in recent years, she had no seeds to plant, yet with the training, tools and seeds she had received in the relief and rehabilitation programme, she had a more positive outlook.
We walked back in the baking heat, reflecting on the woman’s story. Day in, day out she would labour in the field and bring home the crops to her family. Backbreaking work done by strong, determined women, desperate to build a better, brighter future for themselves and their families.
I was relieved to return to the cool office compound and thought again of the women I had met. It was inspiring and encouraging to see their resilience and strength in the face of adversity.