Working Lives Ecuador
- 24 May 2013
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
Maria Ante lives on top of the world. At least that is what it feels like on the drive up to her remote farm more than 3,500 metres (11,500 feet) above sea level.
Maria, an indigenous Kichwa, has been a farmer most of her life.
She and her family live in a dilapidated building just outside Zumbahua, on the edge of the Quilotoa crater lake. The landscape is impossibly beautiful but life up here is tough.
She wakes at four in the morning, prepares breakfast for her 11 children then feeds the animals. The rest of the day is spent working on the family's small farm where she grows barley harvested by hand with a well worn scythe. Her day doesn't end until after she has prepared dinner.
Maria's income varies from month to month depending on how much she can sell at the market. With 11 children, whatever she and her husband earn needs to go a long way.
They do get some help from the state however.
Maria receives the Human Development Bonus - $50 (£33) a month to subsidise her and her family. Without that money, she says it would be hard to get by.
"I wouldn't be able to buy oil, rice and all the basic things I need," she says.
Maria, who is now 57, doesn't want her children to follow in her footsteps. She wants them to study and have a better life than the one she's had.
As for what makes her happy? Having the whole family around her.