Confirmation- Red Cross trucks were allowed to enter Damaaj two days ago, alhamdulillah. The Houthis first demanded a third of what they were bringing in; the Red Cross countered this with an offer of a tenth. They ended up having to hand over a fourth of the aid that was intended for the people who are being blockaded to the oppressors who are doing the blockading. And of course, they only took food, they left the other supplies such as diapers.
Mujaahid heard that five trucks got through, carrying medical supplies as well as staples such as flour, sugar and oil. They were also allowed to evacuate the wounded from the Houthi offensive last week. There had been no one in the village capable of treating their injuries. They simply tried to make them as comfortable as possible, giving them antibiotics and pain medicine as they were able. One of them is going to lose his arm for sure, mash’Allaah.
One-eighth of the remaining aid will go to the people of Damaaj, and the rest will be split up between the single students and those with families. Mujaahid was going to go in after the last prayer of the day to pick up theirs. Raisins are abundant in the village as well, and Mujaahid said they still have dates too. They are drinking unsweetened qishr, a coffee-like drink enjoyed in many different parts of Yemen. They drink it Southern-style, holding a date in their mouths as they sip the hot drink, so that the dried fruit lends sweetness to the otherwise bitter drink. He said they also make a drink by soaking the raisins in water- it is naturally sweet and gives them some much needed iron as well. There are no more chickens in the village at this point, but he was able to purchase a couple before they were gone. He said he went into the hawsh the other day and saw little Suhayb cuddling one of them, kissing its head and calling it “baby”. Must be some of my farm girl genes showing up in my little grandson, mash’Allaah.
The blockade has helped to make clear the state of the people. For example, one store owner left, locking his remaining stock in his house. Last week the villagers broke in and found flour and wood, both precious commodities, hoarded and kept from these people who need it badly. On the other hand, an Indian brother bought a cow that had been injured by gunfire, had it slaughtered and butchered, and simply gave it away…a few days later, he was able to do it again, may Allaah reward him for his generosity and kindness.
He tells me that a few days ago some of them were weighing themselves. Mujaahid, who was thin to start with, has worn down to fifty kilos. I don’t know what to say to that, mash’Allaah…so I don’t say anything at all. He laughs it off, but the lump stays in my throat for a few minutes afterwards.
Mujaahid said they are only able to get water at night- it is too dangerous for them to gather to get it in the morning, as large groups are more likely to be shot at. He said that they cook with wood now, and he has the job of chopping it.
“Chop wood, carry water- how Zen,” I tease him.
“I really like it,” he says. “Must be in my blood.” My grandfather was a logger in the north woods of Wisconsin many years ago. But Grandpa George took wood out of the forests; Mujaahid and his family are chopping up furniture and building supplies and whatever they are able to find. They have moved in with Hiyaat’s family.
“It just feels better,” he tells me, “to be together in times like this.”
How I wish I could be there for him, or have him here safe with me. I ask Allaah daily, several times a day, to bring us back together.
Until then, we wait, and we pray.