I learned how to cut rice about 4 months ago and recently I had a go at planting rice. It is a really lovely thing to do, gingerly walking along the narrow tracks made by the bay walls of each padi, then sloshing about in the mud and plopping a couple of seedlings in the mud. You just have to put the seedling in, there is no real hole digging or covering up, the seedling seems to find its own way down and its so simple. It took a few minutes for me to get the right quantity of seedlings to plant in one go and the right distance between each plant as some seedlings are bigger and stronger than others so you need fewer and have a greater distance between each bundle. Anyway, it was very pleasant being with all the women chatting away, yelling at each other to bring more seedlings, being outside with the sun and the water. It is so beautiful. Many of the paddies were as green as green because they were full of the seedlings. The lushness of this contrasted with the mountains behind, the sea on the other side of the road and the bright colours of all the people bending down. Picture perfect. All this is less than a km from my home sweet home. Another 4 months and it will be cutting time again.
After planting for a few hours I was invited to eat at the farmer’s place along with about 50 other workers. We sat on palm woven mats and ate in two shifts because of lack of plates and spoons. The good thing about helping on a farm is that you get to eat meat. You can expect a good feed as your payment.
Anne Chapman, a teacher from Melbourne, is volunteering in Atabae Timor-Leste. Her placement is jointly supported by Palms Australia, Friends and Partners with East Timor (FPET), Friends and Partners with Australia (FPA) and AusAID. This is an excerpt from a longer article, found here.