chickens, and maybe a donkey


*new chicken coop

During a visit to the Zarka street extended al Bateran families today I stopped by Hamsa’s modest one-room home, to see how he and his pregnant wife were doing.  In the small entrance space where a bicycle had been leaning on the last visit was now a blue tent-like shelter.

“Chickens!” Hamsa told me, pulling up a corner of the blue cover to reveal 3 hens and a rooster.  “I used some of the money you gave me to buy these, 200 shekels altogether.”

He pointed to the corner of the pen where 3 eggs lay.  Each hen produces 2 or 3 eggs a day.  So now at least he has a cheap and sustainable source of protein, important for his pregnant wife and for himself: he is usually out on his bicycle hunting down scrap plastics and metals for re-sale.

“When I had a donkey, before the war, I could earn 20-30 shekels a day collecting scrap metals and plastics.”  It was still a mild income, but enough, he said, to live modestly. His current ability to collect is hindered by the small space in his bicycle basket and by the fact that the front wheel of his bike is warped (it was completely flat last time I visited) and causes him to be thrown off his bike periodically.

We sat and drank tea, at his mother’s insistence (she lives with her other children in a cement house next door, only a little better than Hamsa’s).  Poorer than the majority, like the majority they cannot allow me to visit without offering tea.  They went on to beg I stay for a meal, complaining mildly that I rush off without their hospitality. We agreed I’d stay for breakfast on Friday, after we get back from the donkey market.

We’re going donkey shopping, and if all goes well, Hamsa will have a donkey to replace his martyred donkey and to increase his meagre income.



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