Hajj season 2020: from a shoe guard to one of the pioneering platforms


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Shadia Bint Ghazali

Shadia bint Ghazali Janabi is crying, crying about the empty sanctuary of the Great Mosque of Mecca from his regular visitors, and she says that she and the Girl Guides team that she leads feel very sad, especially since they will all be deprived of the service of pilgrims this year because of entry and exit restrictions for the holy places and reducing the number of workers in this field as one of the measures to prevent Corona epidemic.

“Hassine, a lump in the throat … Today we are not present because there are no pilgrims,” ​​says Shadia, who has spent sixty-two years of age serving pilgrims and since she was a seven-year-old girl.

Shadia .. the daughter of the two gems

Her relatives and colleagues call her the “daughter of the two gems”. Her parents were among the sheikhs of the raft profession (guiding and hosting pilgrims) and one of the first families to specialize in organizing pilgrim trips, and they inherited and mastered the profession for them.

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Shadia Bint Ghazali has been serving Hajj for sixty-two years

Shadia tells the BBC that her first role in this area was to guard the “slippers” of pilgrims while performing the rites of pilgrimage.

After that, Shadia joined the team of circumvents and traveled to many countries in Southeast Asia to contract Hajj trips from there.

She says that she was traveling with ships for 15 days or more per trip, and before the planes entered the field of transporting pilgrims to and from Saudi Arabia.

She used to accompany pilgrims, women and sheikhs, from the arrival point in the port of Jeddah to departure, passing through the residence, and performing the rituals in various feelings during these long periods.

She speaks six languages ​​and says that her mother was fluent in sixteen dialects and languages ​​other than Arabic.

“The pilgrimage journey in those distant years took three whole months starting from the end of Ramadan and ending with the pilgrimage. During that period we were on the order of pilgrims with great devotion and dedication … Now, with the development of transportation and aviation, the journey has become two weeks, shorter and even a week for the pilgrimage.” .

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Hajj this year

From raft to scouting

She adds that the family used to receive pilgrims contracted with them in their homes and the number was in the dozens “and my aunts and aunts were cooking and other care tasks” but things changed after the inauguration of the official raft office.

Since then the helicopter has been run by corporations and institutions rather than individuals and families.

Now pilgrims are in the hundreds of thousands and can not afford houses, but hotels with special facilities known. After her job became limited to supervision and coordination in the Tawafa Foundation, Shadia worked as a family counselor at the Ministry of Social Affairs and when she retired she worked as a volunteer guide leader in Mecca.

Shadia says: “My team and I are responsible for the women of the elderly in the Holy Mosque of Mecca with the help of female volunteers. We are the police and guides at the same time … We help the elderly and drive the electric vehicles for help, relief, guidance and guidance.”

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Shadia is responsible with her team for the elderly women at the Grand Mosque in Mecca

unforgettable moments

Shadia tells of good memories that are still in her mind, including that she attended the birth of a need for a baby girl in Mina’s hair, and her mother called her “Mina”.

“I was helping my mother, who used to play the role of the float and the start (the birth) at the same time, because there were no obstetricians at the time and the place,” said Shadia.

However, the outbreak of the Corona epidemic in Saudi Arabia since last March prompted the authorities to restrict the work of volunteers in the holy places, especially after the cancellation of the minor pilgrimage season, and then limited the pilgrimage season this year to pilgrims inside.

Shadia complains about the long period of sitting at home, “We in Makkah are allowed to go out, but I am 6 months away from home and do not go out because of Corona and injury fears.”

Difficult moments

Another incident that you remember from is the stampede in 2009 that killed many pilgrims at the height of the Hajj season.

“I was a volunteer and it was a very difficult situation that we slept in a state of fatigue,” she says. “We were also working as policemen and translators at the emergency hospital in Mina. We were required to identify the bodies of the bodies and introduce them to them to transfer them to their final resting place … It was very painful.”

Shadia is currently training her team of female guides remotely with Zoom technology and says she advises them to grow their homes with vegetables as a useful way to spend spare time.

قيود وخبر سار

The Kingdom decided last June to restrict the pilgrimage season this year to Saudis and foreigners in Saudi Arabia, to a maximum of ten thousand pilgrims, within the framework of the Kingdom’s procedures to prevent the spread of infection among visitors and the lack of a vaccine for the disease.

The kingdom decided to implement strict spacing procedures in all the holy places and at all times during the practice of rituals, the most important of which is sufficient distance between every pilgrim and another in circling and seeking and throwing stones and others, as well as in buses, housing and others, while obliging everyone from pilgrims and workers to put protective masks at all times and all common places .

One of the good news for Shadia that she received during the preparation of this report is that her son was chosen to participate in the Hajj service as a volunteer this year, when it was decided to reduce the number of pilgrims due to Corona.


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