We have around 130 employees at Norlha, all issued from the 200 families in the village with half having at least one member working at Norlha. Because Ritoma is such a small community, everyone works alongside a brother, sister, cousin, in law or parent. Sometimes the whole household is employed there, covering several generation, other times, it is a wife or sister who is salaried while the rest of the family continue to be nomads.
Norlha has created new family patterns. In the old days, extended families spanning three or even four generations lived and worked together looking after their herds. Most women married into other families, becoming the nama, or bride, though in the absence of a male heir, a family could bring in a groom for their daughter. In most cases, a young woman had few choices in life and would marry a man handpicked by her parents, bear children and toil ceaselessly looking after animals from pre-dawn to late into the night. A widow or divorcee could only hope to live off relatives and contribute to the household as best she could.
In 2007, Norlha opened the door to jobs in the village itself and families found ways to diversify their income. Young couples withdrawn from nomadic life had a chance to start their own, independent household, on their own or supporting their ageing parents thus gaining the independence of bread winners. Divorcees and widows found a new lease in life and the freedom that came with it.
The series of photos below show the diversity in the Ritoma family patterns. Some are husbands, wives and children with one or more parents. Others are parents with their daughter and her children. Their homes look warm and well furnished, illustrating a new way of life offering wider horizons and possibilities.