Untitled - I

Leila, a 33 years old, is now pregnant, with her 9th child. Her eldest, 16 years old, is now working. The rest, 14, 10, 8, 7, 5, and 3 years old, also work. Even her new born, I think he's about 10 or 12 months old, that she carries around in her arms. This family of 10 members, and a husband who lays back at home, work together, in their own family business. They are beggars!

They live in a tent, and they relocate according to seasons. I met Leila and her family in one of the most attractive summer destinations, in the mountains of my homeland. That's her forth year in a row she camps out there. According to her, business was good even during 2006, when there was war in the rest of the country.

I wasn't interviewing Leila officially, I was just in one of my chi-chat moods. Maybe that's what made her so elaborate in explaining her situation, or maybe because she sensed that I wasn't going to give her any money. I wasn't being mean or anything of the sort, I just don't like encouraging this line of business, and I think I was very firm and clear about my No to her, but in a friendly way.

So, back to Leila's family business. Apparently, the husband doesn't work, not because he's lazy (according to her), but because he needs to wander around each of the family members' locations. You see sometimes people pick up on them, sometimes someone might try to molest them, and "you never know, it's not a safe world anymore" someone might try to kidnap them and kill them to sell their organs. So, Leila continues by explaining: "my husband is a responsible man, and he needs to protect his family, he doesn't have time to work himself, and thank God, we're making enough money. Two years ago we bought a land property back home, and now we're trying to build up a building with one apartment for each of the children. That's why my kids work harder than the rest of the families, and they know how to talk to people, they know that the money they bring is not going to be wasted on an alcoholic father, like in other families i know. They know they're building their future, and they know their father is a responsible man indeed."

Leila and her husband are a very responsible couple indeed! It's undeniably true! They are building a future to their children, "unlike other families", and put aside the fact that they consider breeding as an investment, but life is about give and take. They're taking a little, but they are giving back, and plus it's not like they're stealing other people's quota of children. To each his life!

To each his life indeed. I don't even know if I should judge Leila and her husband for being lousy parents, or if I should blame the ministry of tourism for allowing such profession to exist to begin with, or if I should blame the ministry of social affairs for not providing such families with other alternatives, or if I should blame it on capitalist systems where wealth is not divided equally! But then again, Leila is now building her own family building; so, speak of wealth! I don't know if there's anyone to blame to begin with, or if I should even care!

But I do care! I do feel bad for those children! I do believe they should be in schools, having at least same opportunities as others! I do feel that it's completely unjust for them to be on the streets, working at that age, and in a profession with a lot and a lot of risks! But a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do to put food on his table! Or in this case, a child's gotta do, what he ought to do!

Tomorrow will not be a brighter day, and the world is not going to be a better place. At least, not yet!.. Perhaps, eventually!


Nash said...

I think this such a refreshing article. You took something most of us would just pass off as a regular scenery and yet you focused the light on a whole new dimension.
I am a new reader to your blog but will always stop by for more great pieces.

P.S, I am Global Voices Online author, and I submitted a link back this article that should be put online in few days I hope, i believe more people should be reading this.

Rawaa said...

Thank you :)

Liliane said...

very nice article indeed... but seriously? a building? an apartment for each child? heh! talk about a successful business!

They should be in schools, its their right...

Rawaa said...

Well, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares the right of a shelter as a basic right, prior to education. So if you look at it from another angle, they are indeed responsible parents after all..