A man quietly rises from his place at the morning feast, slips away from his family celebrating with a big meal, and walks to his neighbour’s house. He pauses and raps on the gate. “Relieve my conscience!” the man calls to his neighbour. The neighbour replies, “Your conscience is relieved.”
On the morning of the feast of Eid al Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice), this beautiful ritual takes place in most neighbourhoods. It is a public confession—community depends on each other.
Together the man and his neighbour move to the next house, bringing their guilt of any offence that might have been caused in the past months. Together they rap on the gate and call out to their neighbour “Relieve my conscience!”
This is repeated at each door, again and again, until all of the men of the community are gathered together at the last house. They are a large group on the street, full of ease.
Each time a gate is knocked and a door opened, squeals erupt from inside. Children, dressed in celebration clothes, spill out onto the street. Their fists are stuffed full of sweets and they play together with new toys.
There is a lightness.
This is what happened in most neighbourhoods on Eid al Adha. But in Mukashafah–where residents returned to their neighbourhoods after being driven out by ISIS and are slowly rebuilding their lives–the morning was quiet. ISIS rained bombs around the village all night long.
You are standing with the people of Mukashafah, supporting them with tents and emergency relief aid. You provided the resources to restore their water treatment system. And each time you stand with this community, you provide a burst of encouragement to residents.
For Eid al Adha, you provided the means for children in Mukashafah to celebrate the holiday with a simple party. The nighttime bombings meant that planned party had to be cancelled—any large gatherings were far too dangerous a target.
But the local volunteers know the power of visiting door to door, like the traditional way of observing Eid al Adha. Instead of giving up on the party entirely, the men went to each family’s tent, called out to the children, and gave out new outfits and candy.
For these children who possess little, the gift brought back some of the magic of the day. And for the men on the volunteer team, the door-to-door visits reenacted that public confession of community—we need each other.
ISIS intended nothing but harm for this day of celebration. In the end, love won.
Thank you for giving this team of neighbourhood peace makers the means to bless their community. Thank you for continuing to stand with them, while they do the hard work of rebuilding.