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One of the most difficult things I have had to deal with here in Yemen is the lack of proper disposal of garbage. As the society has been inundated with convenience foods- such as cheese curls that cost the equivalent of about eight cents a bag- their old way of putting the garbage out for the goats to rummage through has caused a huge mess to be made. Whereas before the goats would rummage through and eat kitchen scraps, and cats and wild dogs would snap up any fish or meat that happened to be disposed of, now the animals can’t make a dent in the piles and bags of shiny wrappers and drink bottles.

Garbage field

This is the field next to our house

Most of the cities do have a garbage service, but in certain areas it may be months between their gathering up the refuse. A month or so ago a bulldozer came to get the garbage in the field next to my house. A fair amount of garbage was removed, but a lot of it stayed right where it was.  And every morning we see men and women going through the piles of refuse, looking for things they can sell to be re-used or recycled. Children play in the garbage as well, going through looking for interesting containers and things that they can use in their make-believe games. One day I saw a group of girls with two prescription medicine bottles, a plastic oil container, and some tuna cans. They played house with them. The ramifications for health and hygiene are staggering.

What is needed is a widespread program to teach people the issues surrounding the garbage…and perhaps some sort of punishment such as fines for not taking care of the garbage properly. This is done in Sana’a, and before the protests it was a relatively clean city. Some of the imaams at the masjids and centers address the issue as well. When we were in the village, one of the teachers regularly spoke about it from an Islamic perspective of caring for the land, and removing harm from the people.

So, what does garbage have to do with Creative Parenting? Find out by reading the latest in my series here.

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