No relief for the impoverished
Almost twelve people were in that tiny room and only three of them were adults; the rest were all dirty, sleepy children.
Welcoming me as a guest they invited me to sit, but despite their best efforts there was no room for me.
In the room there was almost nothing more than a small piece of filthy carpet which held most of the half-naked children. Others were on two old shabby sponge mattresses whilst the rest stayed on the floor.
Hassan explained that he has a mentally ill son who sleeps by himself in another because he may hurt his younger brothers.
He said that he has six sons and daughters. Living with him is his eldest daughter who was married but is now a widow; she has brought her seven children. There would have been more had one of her children not died recently.
The father said that his daughter tries to find what she can to feed her seven starving children by begging on the streets from morning until late at night. She is sick and would not be able to manage strenuous work.
"She sits on the streets until she collects 300 YR – about $1.50. Sometimes she gets at most 500YR," her mother said.
She added that her daughter sometimes finds work to help in houses as a servant and earns 300YR per day.
Hassan, who is 45 years old, works on a rented motorcycle to sustain his big family. He said that he must give 500 YR each day to its owner.
"What I earn on top of the 500 YR is only about 200 or 300YR and I have to spend this little money sustaining my poor family," he added.
Covering life needs
Hassan said that some, but not all, of his children study. His daughter added that her children were studying, but after the death of their father, she couldn't handle their needs alone. This is exacerbated by her heart disease, for which she requires expensive medicine.
"I am suffering because of my heart, and if I’m exhausted or even talk a lot, I feel like I am close to death," she explained.
Hassan talked about paying electricity and water bills which reaches tens of thousands which the family usually cannot afford. "Where can I get the 70,000YR to pay for late water bills? I can barely feed my children," he moaned.
Dealing with illness
Hassan's family discussed the diseases and illness that affect them. Within their levels of tolerance, they said that whatever happened to them was sent from God and as such they accept it kindly.
However, sometimes the situation escalates beyond their financial abilities, with serious results.
The daughter said with a gloomy tone that her son died because she was not able to afford the price of the bed in Al-Thawra hospital. "He died in my arms. It was the will of God and we accept it."
She added with further grief that her husband died in hospital after 12 days of waiting for heart surgery.
"We sold everything we owned to cover the surgery's cost, but his death came faster than we could sell," she added.
Hassan added that his mentally ill son's case is getting worse each day because he is not able to pay for his medicine.
"I can't do anything because my age and my body stop me from finding other work" he added.
Hassan stated that he doesn't have anything to present at dinner to feed his big family, and that he had bought nothing for Ramadan.
His wife said that her husband leaves the house and comes back only with some bread. "We eat bread and water only, even we can't find a tomato to eat," she added.
He wondered about the organizations which allegedly work for the poorest people, as he asserted that nothing reaches them at all.
"They always come to register our names and take our photos, and we never see them again" he added.