Communal labor is an important part of Ojika’s life. Once or a couple of times per month, usually on Sunday, locals gather to clean up their village. The activities usually involve cutting and burning grass along the roads, cleaning up the marine debris at the nearby coast, cleaning the ditch, etc..
At the beginning of the year, villagers gather at their community hall to decide on the communal work schedule. Then, as the scheduled day for communal labor is approaching, there is an announcement transmitted from the loudspeakers set around the village reminding that “everyone must gather at 8 AM this Sunday for the scheduled clean up of the coast”.
June and July are especially busy with the island’s flora getting out of control.
One member from each family in the village takes part in the cleanup, and while the participation is not mandatory, everyone willingly embraces their “duty” for the community’s sake.
Island’s abundant vegetation requires constant maintenance. As such, cutting grass and grooves along the roads is the top priority.
A lot needs to be done. Villagers know this and are eager to lend a helping hand. Some cut the grass, others load it on the truck and bring it to a field where it will be burnt. Ladies clean up the road after the grass has been cut. It’s all about working as a team.
It’s hard work, especially in the summer heat, and those who moved to the island recently struggle to keep up with locals who work swiftly, smiling and laughing the whole time.
Once the grass is gone, everyone sits down in the shade of a tree to catch breath and quench thirst with a cold drink, which seems to taste so much better after hard work. Somebody runs back home and returns with a watermelon from their own field.
The communal labour not only keeps the village clean, it also brings villagers closer.