Eid for the poor? [Archives:2002/49/Viewpoint]

December 2 2002

As I was shopping recently for goods to celebrate the Eid, I noticed an incredibly large number of beggars almost everywhere. It is simply impossible to do your shopping without being overwhelmed by beggars coming from every direction.
I asked myself, “Was it like this last year?” “Was it like this a decade ago?”
No. Yemen has never suffered in the past of so much misery. Poverty is simply on the rise. Yet, rich people are getting even richer, and the social gap is widening.
Our society has become merciless for the needy and poor. Conditions have been pushing the limits of what poor people could do to make ends meet, and perhaps this year, these limits could go beyond comprehension.
Prostitution for money is in the rise. Robbery, theft, and corruption are everywhere. Why have we reached such an incredible poverty level? What has been going wrong for these last years?
If there is anyone whom I sympathize with most, then it would be the next government that would be coming after the elections to be held in April 2003. I can imagine the huge burdens and responsibilities it would be taking from the earlier government.
Just imagine dealing with poverty alone. That itself is a major challenge that threatens the future of development in Yemen.
This comes in a time we are all celebrating Eid Al-Fitr, which is the occasion that should have been a time of happiness and joy for all. But as far as I can see, there will probably be a significant portion of Yemeni society that is not feeling very happy on this occasion.
They are the ones who are deprived from the basic needs to live a decent life in Ramadhan, during the Eid, and at any other time. Is life becoming so harsh for them even in the days of Eid, when they should be living their moments of joy and pleasure?
“Eid or no Eid, it is all the same for us.” said one of the beggars whom I had a little chat with.
“Who is responsible for what you are in?” I asked.
“I don’t care who is responsible for my conditions, but what I care about is how to get bread for myself and my 11 children,” the old man answered.
Life may sometimes turn desperate and hopeless, especially when people are fed up with the miseries and pain they go through. But is life so desperate, that it’s at the point when some children can stay hungry with their dirty, worn-out clothes, while watching other children wearing the fanciest of clothes playing in parks.
Is this the way this Eid will be marked by those people? Has life become so desperate for them?
Sadly, it seems it is.