Well Ramadan started and I always had a basic idea of the concept but living in a village that is about 90% Muslim brings a whole new light to things.I never thought of all the details before like- do pregnant and/or breastfeeding women fast? What about people living with HIV/AIDs? What about little kids?! Well here is what is going on in my village that has made me really think about region and religious practice. I have just about reached my breaking during the past few weeks- pregnant women are trying to fast, A LOT of pregnant women are. They come in to the clinic for a check up and it's the first quesion I ask-"ume funga?" and so many say yes, even though during Ramadan pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are not required to fast. I try and try and try some more to explain to them that while being pregnant you need extra food and fasting for a month can detrimental to the baby. I get the nurses to help me explain that during pregnancy you need extra calories and to be drinking plenty of water. Also keep in mind about 90% of the people in my village are already severely malnourished.After we get done talking to them abut the possible harm most of them just laugh, and oh my let me tell you it is so so frustrating.The stigma about HIV is so high in my community that it's a struggle to meet with the PLWA group, I have been slowly working my way in but are they fasting during Ramadan & not taking their meds? The meds are strong and need to be taken with plenty of food and water so that is another huge issue.Children are also not required to fast but I can not get a correct answer on the age when they start fasting, some say 3 some say 5 etc. Walking around my village during the day seeing children laying on the side of the road clutching their stomachs in hunger is heartbreaking.I literally locked myself in my house for about 3 days locked the doors, closed the curtains and did a lot of thinking. about religion, religious practices, religious wars etc. I also took a lot of time thinking about different ways to talking and deliver messages to the breastfeeding/pregnant mothers besides just lecturing them. I felt a lot better after those 3 days and made some changes with thoughts and communication.
Ok, thanks for listening to my rant. When the sun goes down and everyone eats the party starts and it is pretty cool to watch the kids sing and dance while playing the drums and I have partaken in Iftar which is the meal eating at susnet. It was delicious and really heavy, consisting of chick peas, potatoes and pasta all mixed in a gravy.I am also wating for the end of Ramadan to celebrate Id-al--Fitr/ People having been comparing it to a Christmas feast.
-Ill keep you updated!