Today was the start of one of the two ‘main’ holidays of muslims. The first holiday is known as Eid ul Fitr, which marks the end of the month of fasting–Ramadan. The second (that started today) is Eid ul Adha, which is centered around the pilgrimage of Hajj that happens every year in the holy city of Mecca. The rites surrounding this holiday focus on the sacrifices and struggles that the prophet Abraham (known to all religions) made during his life time. One of the main rites of this holiday is the sacrifcing of an animal (goat, sheep, cow, camel) as a reminder of one of the struggles that Abraham endured during his life. Everyone that can afford to, must sacrifice an animal–and divide into three parts: one for the family, one for neighbors, and one for the poor.
So, after the Islam 101 tutorial above, you must be wondering what I did today??
My wife and I picked up Wangari and set out to the Saiban community to spend the afternoon with them. We had made arrangements to have a cow sacrificed there, and have the meat distributed amongst the 30 families living there. Besides all the blood and guts, it was really an awesome experience…a day I will remember for a long time.
Two years ago, this 20 acre piece of land was a place where villagers used to congregate for yearly dog fights. When I first took on this project, people (locals, relatives, government officials–just about everyone) told me that I had been screwed. This place was a clear waste of time and no one would EVER move here.
Today, I entered into the home of Naveed Ahmad, a Saiban resident who works as a driver for a telecom company. He insisted we have lunch with his family. Now I am not a fan of liver(!!!), but somehow it tasted really good. As we sat there, I began to reflect on where we started. Naveed was one of the early residents (and is currently the block manager). He has four children–two of his daughters are mentally challenged. When he first came to Saiban, about 1 year ago, he told me he was fond of gardening–and would make the environment a priority. One year later I am sitting in his home, where he has planted all types of fruits and vegetables, as well as fragrant flowers–I am in shock–he kept his word beyond my imagination.
Just sitting there today amongst people who only dreamed of owning their own homes–now having them–and in a place that was a big joke for all of the onlookers—was a pretty good feeling!