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Walking thousands of steps in her shoes

All over the world, women and girls in some of the poorest communitiestake on the brunt of domestic labour: Collecting firewood, fetchingwater and gathering food -- tasks that often entail long, arduouswalks.

All over the world, women and girls in some of the poorest communities take on the brunt of domestic labour: Collecting firewood, fetching water and gathering food -- tasks that often entail long, arduous walks.


According to CARE Canada, an aid and development organization dedicated to fighting global poverty, these women and girls walk an average of six kilometers a day, or about 8,000 steps.


Abshiro Aden Mohamed — a 55-year-old widowed mother of four who fled war-torn Somalia in 1991 and settled into Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp ,where she and her children and grandchildren still live today, along with 10,000 other refugees — surpasses the statistics, walking an average of 20,000 steps a day.


Here’s what a typical day walking in Abshiro’s well-trodden shoes is like:


Zero Kilometres


Abshiro wakes up at 5 a.m. to pray before waking her youngest child, a 13-year-old daughter -- along with her grandchildren -- for school, preparing breakfast for her entire family, which also includes two grown sons and their wives and her grown daughter. Abshiro alse feeds her goats, fetches water from the nearby tap stand, all before walking the goats to the farthest end of camp where herdsmen take them to graze in the bush.


Six Kilometres
After returning home, Abshiro walks the 30-minute route to the camp’s market, where she runs a grocery stall with her 25-year-old daughter, arriving at about 9 a.m. to open her business. She then spends the next two hours dealing with wholesalers and stocking her stall, before heading out at 11 a.m. on a 30-minute walk to the other end of camp where she is supervising the construction of a boarding and lodging facility. Some days she must also walk to the food ration centre.


Twelve Kilometres
Abshiro walks back to her grocery stall in the heat, arriving at 1 p.m. to check on business, then walks home to prepare tea for the children, perform her afternoon prayers and fetch more water. By the time she returns with water, it is 6 p.m. and Abshiro prepares dinner for the family. While they eat, she walks to the outskirts of camp to pick up her goats. She and the goats return home, then she feeds them before performing her evening prayers and bathing.


Fifteen Kilometres
At 9 p.m., Abshiro finally eats dinner, visits with neighbours for 20 minutes, does her laundry and goes to bed around 11:30 p.m. “Every day is a happy day given to us by God,” she says. “I am healthy and at peace of heart. I have all my children with me, and they are of good health.”

 
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