My Blog

Real Hunger is No Game

I received an email from my son, Mujaahid, today. He and his family are still living in the small mountain village that we called home for three years. This village was recently subjected to a months long blockade, which I wrote about in my “From the Front”series here at Yemen Journey. Things are back to normal, and apparently moving forward. Mujaahid told me that electricity lines are being brought in, so the village’s power will no longer be available at the whim of a few antiquated generators and a few Houthi rebels who have the ability, from time to time, to stop shipments of diesel from entering the village.

Damaaj, seen from a nearby mountaintop

This is a great blessing in a lot of ways, for those who can afford the lines and the burden of an extra monthly bill. Mujaahid, at this time, cannot, but he is patient, and we will see what happens in the future. He’d like to get a washing machine and maybe a small refrigerator eventually as well, to make things easier for his wife, who does all the washing by hand, just as we did when we lived there.

Mujaahid also told me that the baby, Yasmeen, has been sick with vomiting and diarrhea for a week. The local clinic prescribed I.V’s, but she isn’t getting better, so they are trying to get together the money to take her to a nearby town for treatment. When I read this, my heart fell, as it always does when I am reminded of just how far away they are, and how little I can do for them besides pray and pass on their story so that others can join their prayers to mine. Truly powerful…and included in my prayers always is the plea that Mujaahid and his family will be reunited with us, and our family will be whole again.

Baby Yasmeen's little hand

With all of this on my mind, I checked my email, and saw that there is a new movie out called “Hunger Games.” I don’t watch television or movies, so this one will remain a mystery to me, but the title made me think. I would never, after my experiences in Yemen, have thought to pair those two words together. Not only is real hunger never a game, but I fear that the truth of hunger may lose some of its power through casual repetition.

We had times in Yemen where all we had to eat was salad, sometimes made up of lettuce and radishes. When things were looking up, we were able to add bread to that. At times we ate rice and very little else- maybe some onions and potatoes. We ate chicken once every few months even in good times, and red meat only when gifted with it by neighbors. This is not a call for pity, or to call attention to any hardships we faced; rather, it is to make the point that even in the worst of those times, our state was nothing compared to that of many of the people of Yemen who lived around us. The little children we saw begging at bus stops or digging through trash. The old men leaning on their canes, cardboard spread out before them to gather charity from passersby. The toothless old women going door to door asking for bread. Entire families huddled under overpasses, all their material possessions in a small pile near them.

These are the faces of hunger.

“Aid workers call hunger in Yemen the country’s “silent emergency”. With the third highest rates of malnutrition in the world, worse than anywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, generations of Yemeni children grow up stunted, physically and mentally less than their potential. A third of the country, over seven million people, struggle daily to afford enough food to lead a healthy and productive life, with many parents pulling their children out of school so they can help at home,” according to an article at the news blog The Casbah.

A third of the country. To these children, hunger is certainly no game.

Post a comment


Kate (seekingtaqwa) on April 13, 2012 10:06 am

Your message…
Assalaamu alaikum Khadijah,

I’ve been lurking for a while and keep meaning to comment but usually by the end of one of your posts I’ve been left too deep in thought and too close to tears. Your writing is so powerful, and moving mashallah . I also pray that your family is reunited, that your son and his family will be blessed with ease after their hardships and that Allah ta’ala will bless their baby girl with perfect shifaa, ameen.

With much love for the sake of Allah

Khadijah on April 14, 2012 1:49 am

Ameen to your du’as- alhamdulillah, I am happy you have come out of lurkdom, I appreciate your comments and especially your du’a- the weapon of the Believer!
I love you for the sake of the One Whom you love me for.

Oum Assiz on April 13, 2012 1:44 pm

Assalam aleyki wa rahmatulah , i hope your are fine dear sister . May ALAH bless you for your wonderful blog . Can you send me an email inshalah i have to ask you about one thing . Jazaki ALAHI kheyran !

Oum Assia on April 13, 2012 2:13 pm

Thank you sister , i sent you an email . May ALAH bless you !

Khadijah on April 14, 2012 1:47 am

I got it! barakAllaahufeekee!!!

Thurayah Stoehr on April 13, 2012 2:32 pm

Dearest Khadijah, I have not been keeping up on your blog, and I feel terrible. I have let other things in my life get in the way of staying as connected as I can. I am so understanding of your feeling of making too light of hunger. I have turned down many offers to see the “Hunger Games.” It is far too real to make into “entertainment.” My special prayers start now for Yasmeen. I love you! Always, Thurayah

Khadijah on April 14, 2012 1:47 am

We’re always connected, whether we speak, or write, or not, my friend…

Mai on April 13, 2012 6:31 pm

Subhaan Allah. I’m right there sending up the dua’ with you!

Khadijah on April 14, 2012 1:42 am

Alhamdulillah, I know you are, Twinnie…

Umm Abdillaah as Somaliyyah on April 15, 2012 11:14 pm

Subhan’Allaah ukhtee, you’re right, hunger is never a game, however poverty is the state Allaah left his Messenger in, I heard in a biography of shaykh Muqbil that he use to say glad tidings to poverty. Indeed hunger is a test and Allaah tests those whom he loves, I ask Allaah to keep us patient and steadfast upon this deen in good times and the hardships. Ukhtee fil-laah I will you and your family in my du’as in sha Allaah.

Wassalamu Alaykum from Toronto, Canada

Khadijah on April 16, 2012 1:28 am

Yes, mash’Allaah, you are right, barakAllaahufeekee. One of the great blessings, of which there were many, of living in Damaaj and not having money or a financial safety net to fall back on, was gaining a true, deeper understanding of gratitude, as well as tawakkkul. And we know that seeking knowledge comes with hardships, alhamdulillah, and they make the knowledge gained all that much more precious. Ameen to your du’a!

Oum Assia on April 16, 2012 8:10 am

May alah bless baby Yasmeen , please ukhti Um Mujaahid , give us some news of her inshalah .

Wa salam aleykoum wa rahmatulah .

Khadijah on April 16, 2012 10:24 am

Alhamdulillah, I contacted you privately as well, Oum Assia, but I wanted to make sure you knew that Mujaahid wrote to me last night and told me that Yasmeen is slowly getting better. The doctor’s in Sa’dah gave her rehydration salts and antibiotics, mash’Allaah. JazakAllaahukhairun all of you for your du’a, the sword of the Believer!!

Oum Assia on April 16, 2012 12:22 pm

El hamdoulilah , alahou akbar , , la ilaha ila alah .

Kiss )))

Oum Assia on April 16, 2012 12:25 pm

Barakalahoufeekee !

UmTayymiah As-Salafiyah on April 18, 2012 7:09 pm

SalamuAlikum Warhmato Allahi Wabrakto my dear sister,

MashAllah your words touch my heart so deeply. You’re right, real hunger is no game! My Douaa goes to my brothers/sisters in Yemen.

Umm Habiba on May 23, 2012 10:33 am

As’salaamo alaykom okhti, I have been reading your blog since a few days…masja’allah I enjoy reading it…
This post about hunger is no game, hit my heart…thank you for sharing this with us…and I have shared your story on my facebook profile because I think these days many of us need a wake up call…..
May allah give you and family all the best in this world, nice place in Firdaus and protect you all from the Hellfire… lots of love me..

PS: Do you know a sister or more who does not have any children too, I know it is my blessing and Allah has a greater plan for me but I am not an angel and sometimes you want to talk with someone who is in the same line… I am sorry….Barakallahufiki

Khadijah on May 24, 2012 11:56 am

Ameen to all of your du’a!
I will think about who I might know, and contact you privately, insh’Allaah

Ummfouzaan on July 7, 2012 12:45 pm

As salaamu alaikum..I have had the pleasure of meeting your daughter in law..and being in her beautiful company on several occasions so this really hit a soft spot with me. I know first hand the hardships that come with seeking knowledge in general but specifically in dammaj. Being there really did increase your reliance on Allah because somedays we didnt know where our next meal was coming from but by the mercy of Allah we never went to bed hungry. May Allah make it easy for your family and may he increase them in patience and beneficial knowledge Ameen

UmmZaahid on August 1, 2012 2:24 pm

As salaamu alaykum habeebaati, I am new tobyour blog, just reading today. You are a very good writer, Allaahumma baarak alayki. Are you in Yemen now?

Khadijah on August 1, 2012 2:36 pm

Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah, BarakAllaahufeekee for your comments, I appreciate them. Insh’Allaah keep reading, and spread the word, insh’Allaah.
At this time I am not in Yemen, mash’Allaah. At least physically. My heart (and my eldest son) are still there, though, mash’Allaah.

Oum Assia on July 23, 2014 10:31 pm

As-Salam Aleyki Wa Rahmatoullah dear sister , I hope that you and your family are well .

I’m writing to you to get some news about Yasmeen , her brother and her parents .

May Allah bless them .