Friday, March 16, 2007

Eid el Fitur

The muslim holy days of Eid el Fitur here, at least on the surface, is like Easter for Christians in the United States. Eid follows Ramadhan, a period of self denial that makes Lent look like a walk in the park. Most Muslims, except if they are old, ill, or children, fast all day long until evening. In Tanzania, they break their fast with a little binge of food and a special tea. But after the 40 days is over the real celebration occurs- two or three days of eating and celebrating. In some ways it seems more like relaxing- the tension of all that denial over. Almost every child, even ones who are living inn squalor or malnourished, get something new to wear. They wear that outfit all week as the celebration fades.

The week after Eid this year three kids in our breakfast program wore one piece, long sleeve, zip-up snow suits for days in a row. The sun was blazing and these kids had on their snowsuits. Two of them pulled them down around their waists and wore just the pants, but they didn’t want to take them off. What stood out to me was that SOMEONE loved these kids and wanted them to have something and that they, wanted to be part of the celebration at whatever cost. But I also wondered how many meals it cost to buy those snow suits. And who in the used clothing business was stupid enough to send them here in the first place? And where are the snowsuits now that Eid is over?

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