Dahiana and Marsden worked mostly in agriculture, but the lack of irrigation made cultivation heavily dependent on rainfall, and such work wasn’t always available. Sometimes they found other work, but their toil did little to change their financial crisis.
Marsden’s habits only exacerbated the family’s circumstances. While Marsden worked hard, he also drank hard, squandering his earnings on alcohol and leaving Dahiana to shoulder the responsibility of providing for their children. She strained to scrape together enough funds to feed the children and send them to school, hoping to give them a better future, but all too often the funds fell short. Eventually, she made the difficult decision to send them back to her home village, probably to stay with relatives, hoping they would have better food and education there.
736 million people worldwide live below the poverty line, working for $1.90 or less a day.
Quarrels filled their home as Marsden reached the end of his earnings and sought more money from Dahiana so he could have another drink. Perhaps she wondered how he could ask such a thing when they had struggled to feed their children. Perhaps her anger fueled their quarreling as much as his drinking. Misery settled in the small bamboo shed they called home, as well as in Dahiana’s heart.
An old, tattered tarp acted as a roof over their heads. Though sufficient as a temporary covering, tarps are not intended to be used longer than 90 days, much less as a permanent roofing solution.5 Prolonged exposure to the sun, rain and other elements causes tarps to deteriorate, sometimes into literal shreds of material.
Dahiana yearned for a proper roof. A tin roof would be durable and lasting, and it would easily shed the rain. Having a dry refuge from the annual monsoon rains would be a dream come true. But tin sheets were an expense beyond their reach, so Dahiana’s family struggled on, somehow enduring the rainy and winter seasons with little to protect them from the rain or cold. Dahiana lost all hope. Perhaps this dripping and misery would haunt her the rest of her days.