Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Day of Ramadan

I was called the other day by a good friend in country, Lisa, who was telling me how she was going to try and fast for a couple of days with her family. We are in the middle of Ramadan and while we were here last year for this event that millions around the world partake in, I usually don't think twice about it, for I relate it to something Muslims do and since I am not Muslim I didn’t see how I could get involved. Though I am pretty sure I could fast for the whole month if I really wanted to the fact remains that I don’t want to and, honestly, I don’t have to. I think there is something respectful to be said about someone who understands and shows empathy for those who have less, or nothing so I decided to partake in the challenge for the day and drag Alexx along with me because, why not? We set a day, I made sure to have a clear schedule and our minds were made up, lets fast.

July 17, 2013

4:45am My alarm is going off, kind of eager to start this challenge for the day that, thankfully being born into the family that I was, is so unknown to me.

5:00am My brother knocks on my door – I eat leftovers from dinner the night before, bread and coffee as the morning meal that Muslims are permitted before the sun rises. Nene, Abidina and Ouseman join in while Ablaye (the two year old) seemed wide awake and called for coffee while in bed, does he ever sleep?

5:24am I am eating two bananas and drinking a half-liter of water before heading back to bed to have somewhat of a healthy meal before the fast- this will be the last that my stomach will know for more than twelve hours.

5:29am Just got off the pone with Lisa and Alexx to make sure they were up and in this with me- they both were pleasantly awake and reassured me that they were too off to bed and would call later once they were needing some mental preoccupation.

5:34am Crawling into bed feeling and
Breaking fast with my family and site mates (left-right: Jordan,
Mari, Kim, Me, Nene)
pretty full. Not like Thanksgiving full but ate-and-drank-way-too-much-at-happy-hour full. Not complaining.

6:08am Going to try and get some sleep – since coffee was on the menu I was wide-awake entirely too early to actually start my day and had decided to watch an episode of Sex and the City.

6:45am Going to the bathroom, expected.

7:30am Going to the bathroom, not again!

9:35am Going to the bathroom, do I have a bladder infection?

10:50am Convincing myself to get out of bed to run some errands around town. Other than the expected fatigue, I am feeling fine at this point so I figured I should at least be productive.

12:13pm Home from errands, finally have a new gas tank, and I am thirsty. It is starting to hit though it is still more than manageable at this point. I better go read or something to keep my mind preoccupied from how hungry I assume I am going to start to become.

1:27pm Tired and a lack of energy, which is how I feel now. I want to keep reading so that I can be done with this American classic, Little Women, which everyone seems to love but I can’t seem to get into. I should have planned better to be reading a book I actually want to read while trying to preoccupy my mind.

2:06pm First stomach growl. That wasn’t too bad and later than I had expected.

5:26pm I have tried to occupy myself with a movie, talking on the phone, visiting Jordan at her house, though she was not home, and now I am left to watching Nene cook the break fast meal and dinner. Pure torture. I am not looking at the food as something to eat but more so looking at the water that they wash the dishes, rinse the vegetables, or boil to cook the rice in as some novelty item. I am beyond thirsty. The second it turns time to break fast I am dumping a bucket of water on my head!

6:12pm I would compare my level of thirst right now to the children that you see on tv drinking dirty pond water because they have no other option, I would drink pond water if given the chance.

7:02pm Jordan has done a great job of trying to keep my mind busy the last hour with her visit to my house, though it has not entirely worked. I am beyond thirsty. Mouth full of sand thirsty. Almost done.

7:34pm And it is time. Dates are being passed around but since I don’t like them, too artificial for me with all the stuff they add to them, mostly sugar, when they sell them here, I passed and went straight for my buttered bread, coffee and ice cold water. Water has just about never tasted so good, maybe after a long bike ride when you are dripping sweat, but it is still pretty nice right now. My brother looks over at me and says words like “cool” and “nice” which somehow made their way into the local language meaning “how is it going”. It was a pretty peaceful moment, I found my self dazing off being thankful for all I have, all that I have accomplished and being able to break fast with my family while actually knowing what it feels like to not eat or drink all day.

7:51pm Content, happy and satisfied with how I feel right now. Though people fast during Ramadan for religious purposes there is a population, especially among Peace Corps volunteers, that fast for the sake of solidarity, not just between us and our families but us and those around the world that go without food and water every day. Though it was only one day I now have a better understanding for what it is like to look at someone eating or drinking something, while they are not thinking much about it, and thinking how I would love to be in their shoes.

9:07pm Full. Just finished dinner and can’t imagine putting another bite in my stomach, this is what I had been waiting for all day but seem too full to be satisfied. Why can’t I seem to find a healthy balance?

In summary, Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, is celebrated during the entirety of the month each year throughout the Muslim population. Since the calendar is lunar the month of fasting results in varying dates each year. I don’t want to make blanket statements or spit facts about the population among us that go hungry and thirsty each day because I don’t know them. I do know that there is something that each of us can do to help those less fortunate have access to things such as clean drinking water, something we consider so basic and a right in America and take advantage of every day. So I would like to give you this challenge, friends and family, do good. Buy coffee for the person behind, bring fresh flowers to your neighbor, or send a note to a long lost friend. I know it is in you, I have faith.


Anonymous said...

I read an interesting statistic recently... If you can afford to eat 3 meals a day for 3 weeks you are considered among the top 15% of the richest people on earth. I found that so astounding and profound. It has me looking at things in a new perspective. My taxes consider me in poverty, but I have never gone without food. Perspective is so huge... Good for you for participating in Ramadan! My assistant has been fasting even with all her health issues and I admire her strength and yours!

Erica S.


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