by Editor Siarhei Mikhaliuk
Rice is the staple food of more than half of the world's population – more than 3.5 billion people as per the 'Ricepedia'.
The modern world and developed countries make more than a thousand different dishes out of rice, and for them rice is not just a way of survival, but rather also a delicacy in cooking.
For most Asian countries, rice is the number one food source. Many families do not die of hunger even today just because they have the opportunity to grow rice and feed their children.
In the fall of 2018, I was on a photo expedition around Vietnam, we wanted to see for ourselves, and to feel how and in what conditions the provincial people live, how they work on the terraces, and how they gather rice.
What surprised most of all was the amount of manual labor that is still being done on the terraces of Vietnam, mostly by women. Women perform heavy manual labor. They come to rice plantations for work with their children. Small children are right behind their mothers while they do the hard work. The fact that rice harvesting is hard work is shown by the fact that men and women can no longer straighten their backs. They continue to live in everyday life with their backs bent. They walk, eat, rest, and go to bed.
I admire the work ethic of these people., Their hands and feet resemble the dry roots of trees. However, through their eyes shines a good nature. They do not look at you with envy or contempt. I felt like I was plunging into the depth and silence when I looked into the eyes of Vietnamese people working on rice terraces. My heart sank with compassion and at the same time with joy and admiration for these people. I saw that they were happy. They do not know a lot of what is happening in many other countries of the world, they do not know the values of most people in present day Europe and America, but the values of these people impresses me. Their houses are constructed with bamboo, their roofs are bamboo, their shoes are torn, but they are happy!
Many, many people know in theory that happiness is not found in material wealth alone, but still continue to accumulate more wealth.
Many people in Vietnam live beyond the threshold of poverty, live in barns, and next to it, right outside the door is what prevents them from starving - rice plantations. And they are happy.
They never refused and did not strain when we photographed them.
I realized that I love this people, and this rice has become more delicious.
Today I already look at rice in my own country in a different way. It has become for me something sacred, and eating is a little bit like meditation. And all this value of rice is given to it by people, ordinary Vietnamese people.
Thank you for being able to share this experience.
Some more of my photos …