“I wish I could have new clothes this Eid,” said Ahmed, a child of eight. With stolen smiles that hide the tears in his eyes, Ahmed will greet this Eid in his used clothes, the way he greets every Eid.
Ahmed, like all children, wants to wear new clothes during Eid. He wants to play, to eat, and to enjoy Eid like other children. But hard circumstances have forced Ahmed to spend his holiday selling his goods instead.
While other children play in the parks, Ahmed has abandoned the celebration of the holiday and is unable to share it with other children. Instead, he prefers to take the responsibility of selling toys to his counterparts in Al-Sabeen Park. Ahmed said that it is not necessary to play. The most important thing is to collect money,. “Is money the source of people’s happiness?” he asked. “[Then] I have to work to be happy like them one day”.
Despite the joy experienced by other children during the days of Eids, who receive sweets, money, and new clothes as gifts during this period, many other children are deprived of this joy. Instead of happiness, they find only sadness and deprivation during the holiday. Ahmed is one of these children.
Many children are found living and working in the street during the Eid holiday. Through no fault of their own, they are deprived of their happiness. Their only sin was being born into a poor family.
Mariam, a woman of 60, said that Eid used to have a different meaning. People’s hearts were pure and free from hatred. Before, rich and poor people alike all enjoyed new clothes, sweets, and a shared happiness every Eid.
“40 years ago, I remember a day that I will never forget. My husband decided to help a very poor family in the in our neighborhood,” she described. “I really can’t forget the happiness that I saw on the children’s faces.”
Mariam continued her speech, saying that everything has changed now, and one of the changes is the hearts of people. Now it is very rare to find sympathy among people, she said. It is difficult to find people willing to help each other.
“The reason for that is the difficult living situation that people now face. When it is hard to provide your own family with necessities, what about giving to others? It is impossible,” she said.
Happiness during Eid also eludes adults as their economic situations deteriorate, which affects children in a very aggressive way. From the beginning of Ramadan, fathers begin worrying about how to purchase all the necessities of Eid.
Mohammed Saeed, a seller who works in front of the Al-azzany center, said that he has three children and all of them work with him in selling different things.
“I used to get all the money from them, but in Ramadan I allow them to work and take the money for them to buy what they need,” he said.
Ahmed, Mohammed’s son, said that when his father told him to take the money for him, he was so happy, “I was so happy that I would be able to buy new clothes, but when I entered Al-azzany center I found that everything was so expensive.” Then he decided to go to cheap shops to buy things.
Fathers and mothers try their best to make their children happy. Suaad, working as a servant in the house of a rich family, said that the family she is working with is very kind. They often give her their children’s old clothes.
“I know the clothes are old, but I felt happy when I saw that my children were happy with them,” she explained. “I want to buy new clothing for them, but I have nothing on my hands.”
Ebtsam Zaid, psychologist, said that deprivation affects children seriously and can sometimes make them behave aggressively. She advised that people, society and government focus their attention on solving this problem. Children are the hope of society’s development, so society needs to take care of them.