Athanasia Mukabarira came to Gitwa as a new bride over 35 years ago. “I was born in the village on the other hill,” she says. She now lives in a house once owned by her parents-in-law on top of a hill, with views of miles around.
Her husband was considered a catch. “He liked people and people liked him back. He was very social.” It was his looks that she most admired. “I thought his skin would never get old. It was wrinkle-free, like mine. When people saw us with the children, they would say, you are too young to have children this old!”
He died in 2004, from an undiagnosed illness, soon after her youngest was born.
She was strong, then. Now her body aches, she needs a stick to walk, and she is under the care of a doctor at her local hospital in Kamegeri. “I’m disabled and can’t work in the fields to get money,” she explains.
A year ago, the community came together to build her a new toilet, after her old one broke down. The new toilet is situated under a eucalyptus tree, with a view of Gitwa below, the many sandy paths, corrugated iron roofs, steep terraced plots.
Athanasia is pleased with the new toilet, but time spent at the hospital has given her a new perspective. “The toilets at the hospital are very expensive and really beautiful,” she says, explaining that, unlike her toilet, they have a cement floor and a wooden door. There are two options, she continues: sitting-down ones inside the hospital; squatting ones outside. Athanasia says she prefers the ones where you squat, because in her mind, sitting down to go to the toilet is tied up with illness. “Toilets for sitting on are made for sick people,” she says.
1/6 Athanasia Mukakabarira’s toilet. Built under a eucalyptus tree, it has a view of Gitwa below.
“Toilets for sitting on are for sick people.”
2/6 Athanasia is disabled and has spent time in hospital - she now associates sit-down toilets with being ill.
3/6 Athanasia Mukakabarira is a widow, she has eight children.