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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mali Trip Day 4 - "It's 4 a.m. but I can't sleep."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's 4 a.m. but I can't sleep. Every time I close my eyes I keep recounting things I can't make sense of.

Yesterday, our Islamic Relief USA envoy visited 5 orphans that are sponsored by donors back in the U.S.

When we arrived to the first orphan's house, a boy named Suleyman, I was so appalled to see the living conditions he and his family endured. Despite the living conditions, they were very hospitable, kind and proud.

We had to step over sewage to walk in, but that didn't stop the family from welcoming us. Children from around the neighborhood flocked to greet us and show us their toys. Most of them were covered in dirt and I could tell some of them were very sick. I remembered the head of the envoy, Anwar, warning us that what we would see would be horrific. But seeing is different than hearing.

No human should have to endure what these people were enduring. And still, they were better off than most in their neighborhood. One-to-One Orphan Sponsorship through Islamic Relief had allowed Suleyman to go to school instead of working a backbreaking job like many young boys we had passed on the streets of Bamako. Although I was very sad to see what I saw, I couldn't believe how happy and positive Suleyman and his family were.

He told us that the last time he ate meat was around Eid al-Adha, when Islamic Relief conducted Udhiyah/Qurbani distributions in his area. I felt guilty to have a full stomach as I heard this. Then, I was given a tour of their humble home. An inoperative refrigerator was one of the few pieces of furniture inside the 3-room shack. A tore-up hammock and dirty sheets on the ground made up their bedroom, but I wondered how they could sleep in a room with no windows. I was holding my breath the whole time. But, they seemed so thankful for what they had.

I pretended that what I saw was normal, so I didn't insult the family. Inside, I was crying. I hope they couldn't tell.

-Zeyad Maasarani
Communications Writer
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