In one of Egypt’s most spiritual places, Bedouins find peace and resilience
- June 8, 2021
- Posted by: BeTranced Online Holistic Healing Centre
- Category: Blog
Sinai Peninsula, Egypt Driving on the slim highway towards the imposing mountains of the Sinai Peninsula, the wind is chilly, however the solar is heat and clear air rushes into my lungs. I take out my driver’s license in preparation for the upcoming navy checkpoint. “The place are you heading?” comes the standard query. “St. Katherine,” I reply, referring to the St. Katherine Protectorate, an Egyptian nationwide park that’s residence to the Bedouins. The officer appears skeptical. I can nearly hear his ideas, which I presume to be alongside the strains of this: Bedouin girls don’t drive, and they don’t put on pants.
I first got here to this sparsely populated desert area, located between the Pink Sea and the Mediterranean, 15 years in the past. I used to be a youngster working away from Cairo, eager for one thing I couldn’t comprehend. I didn’t know then about my Bedouin ancestry, nor that I might discover a residence away from residence in these mountains. What little I knew about Sinai had come from my father’s tales about when he was stationed right here throughout the battle and Israeli occupation within the early Seventies.
My attachment to Sinai has grown past tales since that point. On my first go to to the St. Katherine Protectorate, I used to be taken in by a Bedouin household. Sheikh Ibrahim handled me as considered one of his youngsters, and his daughters, Zeinab and Mariam, grew to become like sisters to me. Then, in 2018, I used to be a part of an effort—in collaboration with the Bedouin villages of Al Tarfa and Sheikh Awad—to open a volunteer-based clinic, which offers free medical providers to a neighborhood that has lengthy struggled to seek out correct medical care. Bedouins got here from completely different tribes and areas in Sinai. Everyone seems to be welcome.
The Jebeliya tribe, the oldest indigenous neighborhood, has been inhabiting the area for extra that 1,400 years. Tribal members shield the sacred land, residence to the traditional St. Katherine Monastery, and Mount Sinai (identified in Arabic as Jabal Moussa, or the “mountain of Moses”), the place Moses acquired the Ten Commandments, based on Jewish, Muslim and Christian teachings. The neighborhood has survived wars, compelled relocation deeper into the mountains, drought and pandemics.
Bedouins stay keepers of the land, regardless of a protracted listing of challenges: restricted medical care, declining financial prospects, COVID-19, and an absence of infrastructure and entry to schooling.
Over time, additionally they have been victims of discrimination, stigma and stereotyping. In the course of the Israeli occupation between 1967 and 1982, Bedouins insisted on remaining on their land and had been labeled by the bigger Egyptian public as traitors for doing so. Their resistance to the occupation—by working as guides to assist Egyptian Military forces get by the mountains with out detection—was ignored. Too usually, they’re misrepresented as closed off and hostile to trendy methods.
Naturally remoted from the remainder of Egypt with their settlements nestled between the excessive mountains, amongst them Mount Sinai and Oum Shomar, the Bedouins discover peace in solitude. In the present day, the land that serves as their residence is taken into account one of the crucial religious locations in Egypt.
With the job losses that got here after COVID, many in the neighborhood are not in a position to afford to pay for medication. The clinic was compelled to shut as a result of pandemic.
Types of self-expression
Earlier than COVID-19, the neighborhood had been concerned in a four-year challenge that used embroidery and poetry with a few of my photographs to interact in kinds self-expression. Till the 1990’s, girls had been prohibited from being seen by males from different tribes with out consent. As a part of this neighborhood effort, feminine Bedouins added embroidery to self-portraits printed on material. This manner, they managed what to disclose or conceal.
Poetry additionally performs a giant position within the Bedouin tradition. Males specifically maintain poetry circles throughout holidays, weddings and on Friday evenings. On this participatory challenge, some members of the neighborhood wrote poems that captured their emotions towards my photographs. This collaboration resulted in a sequence of diptychs. The poems seen under had been each written by Seliman Abdel Rahman Abu Anas.
We’re the Arabs the real Bedou’
We supply loyalty and kindness at coronary heart
We stroll with every kind with no hate
We shield our visitors and welcome them
No colour however all colour equally Equals with out calculations.
We shake palms to type bonds Our hearts has little question however agony
Oh valley, your love is a house for the soul’s pleasure
Every time I see you my coronary heart grows
I come to you in longing filled with pains
My soul returns to me as I method your grounds
Love for the land
I return to Sinai each few months, hauling medication for these affected by power diseases like diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart illness, and most cancers. I’ve been again 5 instances for the reason that pandemic started to unfold simply over a 12 months in the past to ship medical support. With every go to, I’m hopeful that the next month we will reopen the clinic.
My subsequent go to later this month will likely be completely different—I’ll be attending Zeinab’s wedding ceremony. I’m wanting ahead to witnessing previous traditions that stay intact: camel races in celebration of the bride and groom and village feasts. Some traditions have already disappeared: the absolutely embroidered Bedouin gown with pure gold equipment and the homes constructed with sturdy rocks collected from the mountains, camouflaging your entire village in its environment.
Different traditions resembling handmade crafts have developed, prompted by a youthful era of Bedouins who wish to maintain tempo with the world. What I all the time see is an unconditional love for the land. This interconnectedness runs by my blood and is what pulled me right here 15 years in the past to seek out my roots and my method residence.
Rehab Eldalil is a visible storyteller primarily based in Egypt. Her work focuses on the broad theme of identification explored by participatory inventive practices.
The Nationwide Geographic Society, dedicated to illuminating and defending the marvel of our world, funded Eldalil’s work. Study extra in regards to the Society’s assist of Explorers working to encourage, educate, and higher perceive human historical past and cultures.