AHAD AL-MASAREHA – Thousands of refugees evacuated from their homes in villages near the border with Yemen because of the ongoing military action of the Saudi armed forces against the infiltrators celebrated Eid Al-Adha in a tented camp here on Friday.
Saudi Civil Defense, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), charity organizations and volunteers distributed clothes and gifts to the refugees and organized cultural, educational and entertainment programs for them.
Yet despite these efforts to make Eid a special day for those in the camp, many of the refugees found themselves thinking about their homes and villages and the way they used to spend Eid there.
. It was a bittersweet Eid morning for many refugees because many missed their traditional breakfast with families and relatives. However, they did find some comfort in sharing this important day with fellow refugees.
The camp was a sea of white this week, of the clothes, tents and sheep. The smells of the traditional food of Marsa and Marfoot wafted through the air. Marsa consists of bananas mixed with oven bread, sugar and butter. Marfoot is brown bread mixed with milk and butter.
It is one of the oldest traditions of Jizan for each father to bring his food to the house of the tribal chief where everyone can share in the meal.
This year it was different. Some refugees, who were not related but share the same customs, brought their breakfast and had it together.
They wanted to forget that they missed their relatives and neighbors in the villages on the Saudi-Yemeni border.
“When my son told me that he didn’t feel like praying on Eid because he missed his cousin, I was really sad. Simply put, Eid without relatives is considered nothing,” said Ali Hazazy, a Saudi refugee at the Ahad Al-Masareha camp.
“This is the first time I have had to spend Eid in a tent, but it is my situation and I have to be patient,” he added.
Eid at the camp has been difficult for some refugees because they lost all their wealth – their livestock and their homes.
Faqeeh Mohamed, 45, who has six children from one wife, said that he did not realize it would be so hard.
“I will never enjoy Eid until I return home to Al-Mazabart village in Al-Khubah province,” he said. “Oh brother, just tell me how can I enjoy my Eid without having a source of income after I lost my sheep? Having Eid without a feeling of peace, is not Eid,” he added.
One woman was slightly more optimistic.
A mother, 47, who did not want to be named, from Al-Ghaweyah village, said she also lost her sheep but is determined to make life better.
“Look my son, I lost my sheep, but I have good health and I am going to buy a new sewing machine to make clothes for the women at the camp,” she said.
“I think it is going to be a good source of income for me and my child Ahmed,” she added.
When I asked her where would get the money to buy the sewing machine, she said she had saved up some cash after her husband died in a car accident three months ago.
“You have to keep your white money for your black day” she said.
In Jizan, it is customary to say that Eid is for the children. Many here, however, did not seem very happy.
Saleh Ahmed Hazazy, 11, from Abu Al-Radeef village about 20 km from Al-Khubah, said that he missed his pet sheep which died because of a lack of food and water.
“You cannot imagine how I loved that white sheep, because he grew up with me. When I found him dead in the car of my father, I cried,” said Saleh.
“Only two days before I had bought Henna and made a beautiful line on the top of his head because this is our tradition before Eid Al-Adha.”
Saleh did not believe he could celebrate Eid in a camp.
“Do you think that this is Eid? Eid, without playing at your home or your village with your bothers and cousins, is not Eid” he said. “I am going to sleep inside my tent to forget that it is Eid,” he added.
Ali Hassan, 10, from Al-Kheshel village said that he will play football with his friends at the camp to forget what is happening at the border.
However, he was sad because he forgot his computer game at home when his family was evacuated. “Now I don’t have these games to play,” he said. – SG