“In the past, I wore no shirt just a loincloth made of tree bark. I walked in the forest barefoot. I used to live in a still house made of bamboo and leaves in the jungle. At that time, there were not many people in my village like there are now. In the past, we ate cassava, rice, and meat. Mostly we ate meat that we hunted with crossbows.”

“My husband and I met each other a few times and we loved each other. Then we got married. He was very nice. I love him. (They have 5 kids together.) In the past, we wrapped the babies with a blanket made of tree bark. We grew a type of tree, then we used the tree bark to weave a blanket. I gave birth and 3 or 4 days later, I carried the baby on my back and went to work again.”

“We didn’t have metal pots for cooking, we used clay pots. (Showing us her more-than-100-year-old clay pot) We used to use it for boiling water and cooking rice.”

“I used to have a life like that, but now I still exist.”

Y Lợi, almost 90 years old
Xơ Đăng ethnic group
Central Highlands, Vietnam

Y Lợi has a stoic gaze with a twinkle in her eye. When she tells us about her life as a kid I’m mesmerized. The only clothes they had were worn below the waist and made of tree bark. Her tribe was semi-nomadic hunting wild animals and growing corn. The houses they slept in were no more than raised platforms of bamboo with a roof of leaves to keep out the rain, walls were non-existent. People like her are a different breed. As a child, her way of life was akin to something in Europe’s Bronze or Iron Age. In one lifetime she has seen the technological advancements that took the Western world some 2,000 + years and it is somehow reflected in her strong yet welcoming demeanor.

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