Mónica, mother of 7, carries a bag filled with mate leaves. As many other single mothers, she prefer to work informally, since they receive the social plan Asignación Universal por Hijo which gives a stipend per child to unemployed parents.
Sergio, 32, points towards rain clouds in the distance, during a 10-hour work day under a 35-degree Celcius sun. When school is out, he takes his son Axel, 9, to harvest with him and help cover family needs.
Mate is harvested mainly with the hands and scissors, then grouped in bags filled with leaves which can weight up to 100kg. In the months tareferos don't harvest they receive a subsidy, yet most workers are informal, not eligible for receiving subsidies, and the ones who are complain about late delivery and lack of government support.
Tareferos unload trucks filled with yerba mate leaves at a drying plant, where the drying process begins. The leaves are dried, and then stationed, phase during which the mate is stored for up to 24 months before being ground and packaged.
Simeón Rodríguez, 65, has picked mate leaves since he was 8 years old. He sleeps in plantations where he'll earn US$8 per day, instead of the legal US$67. He can't afford retirement fees since at times he can't even cover basic necessities such as meals.
Yésica looks out the window during the 2-hour drive to a mate plantation in Oberá, Misiones, a northern province in Argentina. Every day she is picked up by her patrón at 5am with others from her neighborhood. They usually work a 10-hour day.
Monica and Yésica head into a plantation carrying bags which they'll fill with leaves. Most women workers are single mothers who have no alternative skills for earning a living. Mate harvest is increasingly inaccessible to women, since many 'patrones' only allow men to work because they harvest more quantity, further marginalizing women.
Tareferos walk home after enjoying a day by the stream in their neighborhood of San Miguel, in Obera, Misiones.
Tomás comforts his son Joel, 6, on a hot Sunday afternoon.
A retired tarefero prays inside the Evangelical church in San Miguel, Oberá. The community is greatly religious and many find comfort in gathering in prayer.
Kids play football in the neighborhood field on San Miguel in Obera, Misiones.
Children from the Núñez family help prepare dinner at their home in Oberá, Misiones.
Kevin, 9, and his mom Coco, 28, look for internet reception in their home. Coco kicked Kevin's father out of the house two years ago after throwing boiling water at her during an argument. She is a single mother with no professional skills and depends on the yerba mate harvest to support her family.
Mónica bathes in a room in her home in Oberá, Misiones. Houses don't have running water, sewers or stable electricity, therefore they are required to collect water from a nearby well.
Children from the Nuñez family sleep moments before being woken up to go to school. Their home is shared by fourteen family members.
Mónica, 34, looks for cell phone signal outside the house she built herself two years ago, where she lives with five of her seven children. She left her husband when she caught him sexually harassing her eldest daughter.