A couple of years ago, I was given the opportunity by Charity Right to visit Sudan and, more specifically, the Eritrean refugees in Eastern Sudan. While there, I experienced moments, saw things and heard stories which have been etched into my memory ever since. From these moments, today, I wish to share one such experience which has lingered in the back of my mind ever since and which gave me hope in humanity.
Among the many camps and huts we managed to visit during our trip, we met two elderly brothers who must’ve been in their 70’s, if not 80’s. Apart from looking frail, signs of hunger were also apparent. At least one of them needed the aid of a stick to walk. We discovered that they were the only surviving members of their family. Having visited a number of families before, we were expecting their story to be along the lines of: displaced due to war, found refuge in Sudan and struggling to find food. How wrong we were.
As we started speaking to one of them, the story started in a familiar fashion but things took a surprising turn when we asked him how they get by for food. He informed us that for the past 30 years their neighbours have been looking after them, giving them food and God has always provided for them. His statement left us all in awe. Here we were, stood in the middle of a refugee camp, surrounded by families who are grateful if they even have something to eat every other day, never mind once a day. People for whom food, many a times, meant flour mixed with water with a bit of salt added for flavour. Yet, here was a family who, despite all of this, did not let their neighbours starve while they ate something, whatever little it was. They shared their food despite their own need for it.
The following narration of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) always made me reflect and ponder over the rights of neighbours: Ibn 'Abbas told Ibn az-Zubayr, "I heard the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) say: 'A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbour is hungry.'"
Growing up in the West, I never thought there’d come a day where I would see the advice of this narration being implemented. Yet, here I was standing in amazement. But the story does not end there.
As we were leaving after informing the brothers that CR would be providing them basic ingredients to take care of their food needs regularly, one of them, in complete humility, turned to us and asked if it was ok for him to give these supplies to their neighbours who had cared for them for so long. He did not have to ask us. In all honesty, he could’ve done that without informing us, but, such were the remarkable people we were dealing with that he did not feel it appropriate to give the items to someone else without permission if they had been intended for him.
Throughout my life and experiences, there are two things I’ve noticed on multiple occasions: generally, it takes someone who has experienced a similar pain to what another is going through to truly understand the difficulty and that those with little tend to have the biggest of hearts. This incident truly re-affirmed those statements for me.
Muhammad Waqqas is an IT & Media specialist who loves traveling, nature and photography. He regularly shares his thoughts on the Little Explorer Blog.
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