Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Heart-breaking

Watching this video this morning provoked within me the deepest sense of anger and sadness. It portrays scenes we have scene many times on TV in countries like India, Sub-saharan Africa - but in this case - it is in the Gulf country of Bahrain. Yes that part of the world with Sheikhs who swim in swimming pools of oil.

It shows 3 generations of a family in Karranah living in a poverty trap. The grandfather, a 75 year old man working on someone else's farm, saying at his age he shouldnt be working but forced to provide, he should be in his mijlas with his misbaa7, but who would feed the kids? What really touched me was the son, Hani, who with a smile tells the lady, what do u think of my flat? The place was unfit for human habitation, but on 85BD a month what can he do. As for the kid who says 'nitrazzag rabna ba3ad waish insowi' what future does he have. This may not make sense but each word uttered is echoing in my head. Lost innocence and oppressed existence.

Yes, the violin music helps, and i'm not one for sentimentality, but why am I crying so heavily? The injustice and knowing that we shouldnt have a single Bahraini living like this in this day and age and the hopeless feeling that there isnt much I can do.

We can donate money, but the poor people of Bahrain find it humiliating accepting donations unless it is through the mosque or other official body. Very few businessmen are philanthropists in Bahrain, ONE exception that comes to mind is the late Haji Hasan Alaali, who built houses, scholarships and other charitable schemes for the poor. Ultimately the government is responsible for this however. 'Where is all the money from tourism and oil', Hani asks. Good question Hani, never mind the slums you live in, you'll be glad to know that a 500 million F1 racetrack has been built. I tell the lady who I go to thread my eyebrows the same thing. With her 6 kids and unemployed husband she works non-stop during the day charging pittance for plucking peoples unwanted hair. She uses this bizarre technique with her finger- more about this another time, but lets just say she only has 4.5 fingers on her right-hand now just to maintain her family's ramshackled existence. She is good though and I have a nice pair of eyebrows to vouch for this. It does ease my guilty conscience slightly by going to her and overtipping.


Some villages dont have paved roads or entrances, and projects to develop sewers are taking years and years to complete. It only takes a short trip to Rafa3 down the road to see miles of tree-lined roads and artificial landscapes to see the stark contrast. It is this inequality that tears me apart. I live in both worlds which are not the same Bahrain. We've all seen the nice Bahrain - malls, skyscrapers, artificial islands, villas etc. Now it is time to acknoweledge the other Bahrain - the Bahrain of squalor and deprivation.

I thank BCHR for highlighting the plight of the village. I thank Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Alkhwaja for all their efforts over the past couple of years as the heads of BCHR. You are truly noble men and I hope the government's reprisal will not hinder or shake your determination in standing for our human rights. Poverty, discrimination, victims of torture, naturalization will remain on the agenda for many years to come.

I thank King Hamad for building a new village in Morocco named after him. I thank the PM for purchasing two more islands in Thailand. I thank Sh. Zayed for the much needed homes he has built in Bahrain which the government has assigned to merceneries in the defence and police forces.

*I'll try and get in touch with BCHR to get english subtitles. Quick get in there before Batelco blocks the site.

Posted by Bahrania @ 11/02/2004 05:02:00 PM

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Why you spend BD50 on massage at Ritz Carlton?

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 11/02/2004 06:50:00 PM #
 

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Posted by Blogger Bahrania @ 11/02/2004 07:07:00 PM #
 

You're a very contradictory lady. Admirable sentimentality and sentiments, but when the chips are down you're looking after number 1. Which is fine. But you do have empathy for others less fortunate than you are.

My contention is that your loyalties are incorrectly applied... and that is probably just an aberation of youth more than anything else. You are impatient with the government as you see it the wet-nurse, the all-encompassing-mother, and the agony aunt but are impatiant with it. You elevate the position of Abdulhadi Al-Khawajah and heap accolades on him, yet he himself has destroyed the BCHR, he resigned from the board a few months ago, he caused the resignation of Aziz Abul and many others, he is a loose canon who knows little about politics and how to further the aims of the deprived in his country, yet you elevate him to an untouchable status.

I find you very hard to figure and reconcile. What is it you want to do? What is it you want of this country? Do you want it to just continuously feed miserables, or rather teach them to eek out their own living?

The sooner you leave the Shaikhs and their extravigances and concentrate on the issue at hand and that is elevating the standards of living of the people you care for, the better it is for everyone. Forget about shaikhs swimming in pools of oil (impossible I might add), just concentrate on bettering the lives of the very villagers you are championing the better for all concerned.

Posted by Blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif @ 11/02/2004 07:13:00 PM #
 

Touche!

I saw that one coming. Im asking myself the same thing. As I said it was an indulgance, but belive me, I give not just of my money but of myself more than I care to disclose. In addition, we are obliged to pay hefty sums of charity (25% subject to exemptions) to charity in the Jaafari sect or Islam on an annual basis. The issue of the awqaf aljaafaria and how they collect this money and distribute it is another issue. But yes, we all should do more. Maybe this video was a good reminder.

Posted by Blogger Bahrania @ 11/02/2004 07:15:00 PM #
 

it's 20% and only if you are able to - ie, no debts, in profit, and only on the amounts that you have not paid for.

by the way, I'm a sayyed, and I accept these 20%s any way you like... I can even give you my personal bank account number if you wish to atone for your worldly sins!! ;)

Posted by Blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif @ 11/02/2004 07:18:00 PM #
 

It looks like Batelco has gotten there already. Do you know where I can find the video?? Thanks...

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 11/02/2004 08:00:00 PM #
 

Mahmood, im not trying to do anything other than express daily frustrations that people have and that you do not share.

I mean, just look at todays paper (i posted the article in another post). Im only trying to do what other people are doing. I can question your intentions just like you try and question mine. I maybe misguided or whatever, but maybe thats what drove me to start a blog - your views are not shared by the majority of Bahraini people.

Whatever Abdulhadi did that was wrong, he is paying the price in the executive suite of Alqal3a prison.

Posted by Blogger Bahrania @ 11/02/2004 08:07:00 PM #
 

I disagree with you 7alaylia. I know that quite a proportion of Bahraini people share my views. Yet, I agree with you that as much people probably do not. I don't care either way though because my views are logical and practical.

Remember that I *am* a Shi'a and will never change my spots. Remember that I love this country as much as any other Bahraini. Remember that I want change as much as you do. Remember that there are hundreds of ways to skin a cat, and also remember that there are ways - especially in our environement - to relay a message than just to shout your lungs out and belittling everyone around you.

I am an optimist. I do want change. I do want people to get and be better. But not the way that you are advocating.

Posted by Blogger Mahmood Al-Yousif @ 11/02/2004 08:41:00 PM #
 

"But belive me, I give not just of my money but of myself more than I care to disclose."

This line sounds like it was copied and pasted from the PM's office - the set answer whenever he too wants to explain his own spending.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous @ 11/03/2004 01:53:00 AM #
 

Thanks for your concern. Im a student living off my scholarship money, im not sure if that qualifies putting my spending habits into public scrutiny. Even my parents have now lost interest in checking my credit card bills.

But the point you raise about the PM is an important one. A head of state who control's the entire country's resources SHOULD be held to public accountability.

Posted by Blogger Bahrania @ 11/03/2004 04:13:00 PM #
 
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