Thursday, September 20, 2012

Haya Baya!

THIS WEEK:
Found an archaeological site shouldered by a vast desert.  Climbed a mountain made of wind ravaged stone overlooking the sea.  Discovered a beach where windsurfers soar into the sky and small boats zip in and out of mangroves.
 
 

 
Toured a museum stuffed with personally owned Qatari artifacts like ancient rotary phones and radios.  Saw a life sized brass horse and handmade tapestries.  Authentic pearl diver's equipment, child's cribs, guns, knives, books.  Antique Korans in glass cases.  Old coins.  Listened to a lecture called Women in Popular Culture given by a female Qatari college professor.  Sat on traditional red and white pillows, drank (saffron?) tea and learned local history from Qataris at the Fanar.
 
But the highlight of this week was tanween and Haya Baya.
 
In Arabic grammar, "tanween" adds beauty and definition to a word by doubling the ending vowel and adding an "n" sound.  In Qatari philanthropy "tanween" is eleven young Qatari women, 9 college seniors and 2 graduates, who add beauty and definition to the world by sharing knowledge and smiles:
 
 
Tanween is not a school project, class assignment, thesis or community service.  The students don't get paid for their work.  Their children's program is simply an effort to share local culture and build language skills among Doha's youngest.
 
The Story of Haya Baya:
During pearling days, divers gave food to the sea on the eve of Eid Al Adha - so the sea wouldn't be hungry during the next pearling season and drown them.  Today, children plant barley seeds in small baskets.  On the 9th day of the Dul Hijja month of the Islamic Calendar children gather along the seashore, sing a song about the growing, green plant…and toss it into the sea.
 
(I was invited to take photos.)
 
Learning the story of Haya Baya with Hissa
 
Making baskets with Aisha
 
Planting seeds with Noora
 
Ready to grow!
 
So, I was going to end with something sappy and vaguely political about how a child's smile defies language barriers.  That familiarity, empathy and understanding begin with this next generation of diplomats, politicians, writers, personalities…and students working "just because."
 
And how kids who understand grow into compassionate, tolerant adults.
 
But the truth is ana jedda (I'm a grandma) who misses her little - and not-so-little ones. Love the stories, love the kids.  More, please.
 
Haya Baya!
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