Women pick green beens in a field in the Imperial—a district a couple of hours outside Lima, Peru's capital city. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
Brigida Quispe, a worker from Imperial, said she works in the fields to support her family. She only received one year of primary education. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
A man picks green beans in the heat of the summer sun at a field in Imperial, Peru. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
Half a dozen workers dressed in long sleeves and colorful hats pick green beans in a field about two hours south of the city of Lima. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
Brigida Quispe, a worker in the field, said the weather can be harsh. “There’s a lot of heat,” Quispe said. “The field is sad." Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
A man runs between rows in a field in Imperial, Peru with a bag full of green beans. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
A field worker brings an empty bag to a group of workers picking beans. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
Picked green beans are collected on a tarp beneath a tent at the edge of a field in Canete. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
A woman sorts through green beans as her son sits beside her. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
A woman sorts through a pile of freshly picked green beans in Imperial, Peru—a district about two hours south of the city of Lima. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
Large sacks of green beans sit beside a motorcycle next to a field in Imperial—about two hours from the country's capital city. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
A woman shakes the hand of a visitor at a green bean field in Imperial, Peru. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson
A home stands next to rows of green beans in Imperial, Peru. Image by Anna Spoerre. Peru, 2016. Add this image to a lesson

It is before 10 a.m., and yet the summer sun is already blazing down on dozens of workers scattered across a dusty bean field in Imperial, Peru—a district about two hours outside Lima, the country’s capital. Field labor is a common occupation for people in poorer regions such as this, where much of the population received little education.

“I dedicate myself to the field,” said Brigida Quispe, a worker from Imperial. “It’s not a secure job—picking beans—that’s what I dedicate myself to.”

Covered from head to toe in long sleeves and pants, Quispe plucks green beans from long rows. She is methodical and efficient.

Quispe said she only received one year of primary education as a child.

“When one isn’t prepared they don’t know how to express themselves,” Quispe said. “Sometimes I don’t know how to express myself because I don’t know the letters well.”

Now she works in the fields where she experiences little pay and harsh working conditions.

“I’ve been working about 20 years in the field to give a bit to my son,” Quispe said.

Her son Anthony Quispe used to work with her in the field, but she said he didn’t like it. Now he finds work in Lima when he can.

Anthony, 16, just finished secondary school and plans to study engineering at a nearby university if accepted.

Unlike many students from poorer homes, Anthony receives some support from his family, which gets no financial help from the government.

“I have always been on top of my kids,” Quispe said. “If I had [free time] I would go to the school and see how he was doing, and his grades. I would go to the conferences.”

Quispe said money is tight so she often has to make many financial sacrifices.

But she does this because she believes it is important for her son to get a better education than she did.

“Sometimes life is going to hit you hard,” Anthony. “I know I will have the support of my parents and my family. Like they say, nothing in life is easy, so I will have to put up a fight.”

Quispe grimaces as she stands upright, taking a quick break from bending low to pick and place the beans in a large sack. One of the men will eventually carry the sack to the edge of the road, dumping its contents beneath a tent where another group of workers sorts through the vegetables.

“There’s a lot of heat,” Quispe said. “The field is sad. Sometimes it rains and we get wet. And in the winter we’re working, planting garlic, picking tomatoes, cutting grapes, apples, everything. Because of that, I support my son.”

Project

Obtaining a good education is especially difficult for children raised in rural Peru. Those who leave their families behind for better schooling in cities often face difficulties living on their own.

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