8.21.2012

Eid Mubarak!

 Last week it was nearing the end of Ramadan and that means planning a big celebration with food, sweets and new clothing following a month of fasting for followers of Islam. I have noticed that the parents in the slum have been off working (picking recycling) more than usual and I gather that it was in order to be able to buy food and pieces of clothing for their children on Eid.

Friday evening I had finished work and headed down to Lakhtokia to visit when one of the older boys whom I wrote about a few months back came up to me. He was chattering excitedly about the upcoming Eid. I picked up that it was expected to start on Monday and then he kept repeating something I couldn't understand. Something about chicken and Monday and Eid. To be honest, I thought for a moment he wanted to know if I could move the Sunday meal to Monday and throw in some chicken in honor of Eid. It would be unusual of him to ask this though so I called a friend and had her clarify with him what he was saying. I was overwhelmed when I was handed back the phone and she explained that he was inviting me to come on Monday at 8am to celebrate Eid with them and that they had been saving money to buy chicken for the day. "Chicken! Chicken!" He kept saying, what  rare treat it is for these children to get to eat meat. I can not even imagine how hard and how much extra they have had to work in order to celebrate this very special day and that they would invite me to join as part of their family. I could see how much it meant to him, how he had been planning the invitation and so of course, I obliged. Saturday and Sunday when I saw him he kept re-confirming that I was going to attend... while I was still in awe of the fact that the invitation was even there.

Ten months, ten months ago this whole journey with these children started. I can't believe how much they have grown and changed so quickly. How everyday I am coming to know them better, each personality, each name, their difficulties, their strengths. We've seen some of the shyer children open up and interact. The wilder children are learning boundaries, order and discipline. But most of all, still we are seeing the living proof that if you exemplify kindness in front of kids, they will in turn act in kindness. Maybe not in every moment but more importantly in unexpected moments. Never, ten months ago or maybe even ten weeks ago would I have been invited to such a special day with them. I still feel like what we do with this community is so simple, it takes me by surprise when I realize how much they have been impacted. As he invited me and anxiously reaffirmed that I would come I just kept thinking about how lucky I was to be there in that moment.

Monday came and I was running a few minutes late, I arrived in at Lakhtokia just as the boys were leaving for prayer at the mosque. I got to see them in their new clothes that they and their parents have worked extra hard to earn. Clothes that may very well have to be sold for money in this coming week so they can continue to survive. He was so excited to see me and very apologetic that it was time for him to leave to pray. I told him I had to go to work and that I would come back in the evening, we were both pretty sad that we wouldn't be able to eat together. The day went by, I thought of them often and how though they seemingly have nothing, they wanted to give back to me what they could on that day that meant so much to them. I think this is a lesson each of us struggles to learn through out our lives, not just to give when the times are good. It is so easy then. But to give even when the times are hard, that is when we are truly tested...

Sumon in his new t-shirt and jeans. (the expression on the baby's face kills me)

Avina in her bangles and necklace. Momma couldn't afford a whole outfit but don't worry, Avina was ecstatic over this little jewelry set :) 

6 comments:

  1. It breaks my heart reading some of these posts and to think what we take for granted in life when they have so little yet they are willing to share so much.
    You are a truly amazing person :) x

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  2. What a lovely post Kristin.
    Little Avina's face is the picture of happiness and pride with her new jewels. And the baby's frown is so funny. I see those beautiful children and then behind them I see the rubbish and I wonder if you still see that or have you desensitized to it? I really admire you for the work you do.
    Jo x

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    1. Jo- I definitely do still 'see it' but I have to some extent become desensitized. I actually see much of it very differently, so much of what is around is actually these families means of existence. There is an intricate system when it comes to the gathering, organizing and recycling of these materials so there are piles and piles of 'trash' but there is a system. There is still a lot of other waste around, that I have definitely become desensitized to. If you like to read I highly recommend reading the book "Behind the Beautiful Forevers" by Katherine Boo. It gives a real look and explanation into the hierarchies and systems found in slums.

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  3. Wow, what an honour! And a good reminder.
    Another tear-jerker, thanks Kristin :)

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  4. Ramadan is coming, so as the Eid holidays. So I'd like to greet everyone Ramadan Kareem and Eid Mubarak. May Allah bless you and your family!

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