Without saying a word [Archives:2007/1099/Community]

November 1 2007

By: Hanan Al-Shibami
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People face many sufferings in their lives, but it differs from one to another. Some suffer poverty, while others suffer either diseases or ignorance. In our society, the suffering that has attracted my attention is that of orphans, whom we don't really see – or maybe we do – but we try to ignore because we're busy with ourselves.

There's a picture on the walls of my mind that I'd never seen before. The picture was wonderful, with beautiful smiles and bright eyes, but it was full of pain and suffering. It began to be drawn when I decided to visit a Sana'a orphanage in Sana'a. The picture became clear to me as I sat and talked with the orphans. It was a very hard experience, but I learned how to appreciate the value of such things.

When we entered the orphanage, the first sight that captured my eye was a boy about 12 years old. He had brown eyes and black hair and wore torn clothes. Because the manager of the orphanage had punished him, he appeared to be crying, but when he saw us, he tried to hide his tears with a faint smile. One of my friends asked the manager why he punished him and he replied, “He's a rude boy. He tried to escape from here three times. He's totally different than the others.”

After this, we insisted on seeing the facility awhere the orphans lived and it was like looking at a prison with no prisoners inside. Windows were broken, the bedrooms were unsuitable for orphans and there wasn't enough furniture. As there weren't enough bathrooms, only one of them showered just once every two weeks. The kitchen was unclean and one plate of food was for five orphans.

After we'd seen these things, we requested to see where the orphans studied. When the door was opened, the orphans' eyes gazed at it, knowing who was on the other side. They looked at us with different looks. The small ones seemed to beg to save them from something they knew, while the older ones appeared to be aggressive and full of hatred. They didn't want anyone to look at them with pity. In fact, they spoke, but without saying a word.

I then looked at each one's face in silence. Something suddenly captured my attention in the corner and it was a boy about 8 years old sitting beside the blackboard. He was very slim and short and wearing dirty clothes. He put his head on his feet. He had been punished for his inability to read the text. I drew close to him and put my hand on his head, but he moved away from me. He seemed to be very afraid of something I couldn't understand.

The picture now seemed complete when I started talking with the others and asking them what they wanted to be in the future. One said, “I want to be a soldier.” It surprised me that most of them wanted to be soldiers and that caused me to ask them the reason for their choices. With the same quality of voice, they answered, “To be stronger.” They wanted to be strong in order to take revenge upon everyone in society who didn't give them a good life like other children.

It's easy to suffer poverty because at least someone will struggle to feed you. It's also easy to suffer disease because at least there will be hands to reduce the pain of sickness. However, it's very hard to live without hands to wipe the tears when you cry or a heart to give love and security when you need it.

I'm not here to blame anyone, but we must state the suffering that we ignore and wonder where is the charity requested for orphans day and night without observing any progress for them?