Thursday, 27 February 2014

Electricity - or Living Without it

The other day I came across a couple of websites of Americans who have chosen to live without electricity. Apart from the question how they can post blogposts without electricity, I think this is great! These people grew up with fridges, washing machines, and TVs, and are now convinced that life without them is more relaxing.
In Yemen, many people live (partly) without electricity, but they don't do this out of conviction. They wish there were no power-cuts, and whoever can afford it uses a generator. Some people even convert their fridges to be used with a gas-cylinder to keep them going.
I don't mean to say that one way of life is better than the other - there is absolutely nothing wrong with sensible use of electricity - but it should make us think about things that are truly important. Like one of the websites stated: Mankind was able to survive without electricity for thousands of years, so why are we so dependent upon it now? Independence means to be able to survive without electricity and to have the knowledge to do this - even if you happen to live in a place where you don't have to worry about the power-supply.
Isn't that inspiring?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Yemeni Women

Sometimes I am asked how women live in this country. This isn't an easy question because there are huge differences in lifestyle among Yemeni women. Women in the countryside (which is where the majority of people live) are usually uneducated but have a lot of knowledge that city-women lack. Think of agriculture and the keeping of goats, chickens, cows, sheep, or even bees (depending on the area). They often know about herbs and their medicinal qualities, can make ghee out of milk by hand, and can manage perfectly well without electricity. They work hard, these village-women, because there's always plenty to do.
City-women, on the other hand, depend greatly on electrical appliances in their housework, like washing-machines, water-heaters, or mixers in the kitchen. They don't have to bake bread every day since it's sold at the shop around the corner. They don't need to get water at the pump or firewood. Therefore, they have much more free time, which they spend watching TV, attending wedding-parties, or chewing qat. Rich families may have maids to do the housework, which gives the women even more spare time.
Some city-women, especially the younger generation, study or work - mainly in education and medicine. There are many female doctors, dentists, and nurses, for example. There are also some centers for adult-education, where women may learn how to read and write, memorize Quran, or learn how to sew.
In short, it is impossible to talk about 'the' Yemeni woman. The place of residence, level of education, and financial situation greatly influence their life-style.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Yemeni Proverb (2)

إذا صلحت النية صلح العمل

When the intention is good, the work will be good

Friday, 25 October 2013

Yemeni Proverb

إذا زادت الشدة قرب الفراج

When the crisis increases, the solution is near

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Eid Mubarak

Eid again - this time really for the Muslims who went on hajj. Nevertheless, the other people celebrate, too: sheep are slaughtered, new clothes are worn, and people get together. Let's not forget that Eid is not just having a few days off, but it's all about the remembrance of Allah as well: It was narrated that the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), said: "The Day of ‘Arafah, the Day of Nahr and the Days of Mina (i.e. the Days of Tashreeq) are days of festivity for us, Muslims. They are days for eating, drinking and remembering Allaah." [Abu Daawood, At-Tirmithi, An-Nasaa’i and Ibn Maajah] [At-Tirmithi: Saheeh]
Repeating Takbeer starts from the night of ‘Eed, and lasts throughout the Days of Tahsreeq and ends with the sunset of the 14th of Thul-Hijjah.

The manner of Takbeer is to say: Allaahu Akbar (Allaah is The Greatest), Allaahu Akbar,  La ilaaha illallaah (None is worthy of worship except Allaah), wa Allaahu Akbar, Allaahu Akbar, wa Lillaahil-Hamd (Praise is due to Allaah).


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Power Cuts?

We have no power cuts these days but rather non-power cuts. The electricity may come for ten minutes or so every now and then but that's about it. I admit, we've gotten used to it, so it doesn't bother me too much. It may bother shopkeeprs that all frozen foods have gone off and Internet cafe owners that they have to run the generator all the time, but having no electricity can have some advantages, too. People get to do other things than watch TV all day, for example. Indeed, we should always look at things from the positive side :)

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Early Marriage

Whoever follows news on Yemen will regularly come past an article about early marriage. Some call it child marriage. According to Human Rights Watch, some 14% of Yemeni girls marries before the age of 15, and about half before the age of 18. Activists now want a law that sets the minimum age for marriage at 18.

However, this may not be right for everyone in this country. True, to marry off a girl that is herself still a child is, at least, questionable. But why not set the minimum age at 15 or 16? Think about the countryside, where more than 70% of the Yemenis live. People there tend sheep, plant grains, coffee, or qat, gather fire-wood, milk their cows, etc. etc. Activists say that girls who marry early are deprived of education. But do farmers really need a secondary school education? Or is basic education sufficient for their lives? And anyway, most village children don't even have access to a secondary school. So, if a girl of 15 or 16 is mature enough to help run a household, why wouldn't she get married?

Things may be different in the city, but we should still keep in mind that people should have freedom in their personal lives. Moreover, if the minimum age were set at 15 or 16, this doesn't mean that the girl cannot marry at age 18 or older! The law should only aim at avoiding harm, and leave the rest up to the people themselves.


... and what is a child anyway? When I was 15, I worked as a cashier in a supermarket on weekends. And in those days, that was an accurate job since bar codes were not yet used. I was not the only young cashier - there were about eight of us. The bread and meat sections were also staffed by high school students. In fact, the whole supermarket was runned by 15 - 17 year-olds on weekends. Would they have agreed on this had we been 'children' in the true sense of the word? Of course not! It shows that a 15 - 17 year-old can take on responsibilities. 

I am obviously not trying to say that all girls should marry before they are 18. Some may not be ready for it. But some others might be - and that's a personal choice.