Friday, July 25, 2008

Housing problem in Algiers

Just when I was thanking Allah for the rizq He has bestowed upon us and the fact that I am blessed with a house for just my husband, our children and myself, I realised that life could be far more difficult than it is for my husband’s family.

His family lives in a small town about half an hour from Algiers, the capital of Algeria. There are his mum, eldest sister and teenage son; two brothers both married with small children and another brother newly married with no children. One brother is waiting to move into his own appartment when the building work is complete. His moving should make a big difference but even now, whilst it might not seem ideal in my eyes, everyone has their own space and some degree of privacy. They cook and eat together but they have somewhere to escape to in the evening if they want to watch tv together or get the children off to sleep.

There are 4 rooms occupied plus the kitchen, bathroom/toilet, hamam (Turkish style toilet) 2 spare rooms and a hall-come-lounge and of course the blessing of living in the countryside: the small courtyard/veranda for the children to play.

For many people however, the reality is totally different. Pictured above are some of the housing tower blocks commonly seen in Algiers and the surrounding area. The housing generally comprises of 2 bedrooms, a salon, kitchen and bathroom. I found it cramped staying in one of these appartments with my husband and 5 children... imagine however if it were 3 or 4 families or more living in an appartment such as this. Maybe an aged mother and father with a couple of unmarried daughters at home as well as 3 or 4 married sons with their wives and children living at home... all somehow, unbelievably squeezed into a 2 bedroom appartment.

It is no wonder there are so many men who take to sitting out in the streets for the best part of the day and evening chatting or sitting in the coffee houses.

I love the value that is given to the family in Arabic and Asian countries but it seems that there are real housing and social problems that need to be urgently addressed by the government. Government housing is being built around Algiers including in this small town where I am currently staying but not at the rate that is required and not fast enough.


Anonymous said...

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatuAllah Umm Ibrahim!!
Wow, you are in Algeria!? That shows how often I'm (not) on the internet these days...Alhamdulillah, I've been busy with good things :)

Are you staying for Ramadan there or is your 'trip' more permanent?

I'm loving the posts about Algeria, btw. Makes me want to go!

L_Oman said...

Wow - I can't imagine being so cramped up, but we have become spoiled from the big villas (and even flats) that we live in over here in the gulf, haven't we UmmIbrahim?!?

How much longer will you be in Algeria?

Umm Ibrahim said...

Wa alaikum salaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuh,

Insha'Allah you're doing well Aliyah. :) We're supposed to be here just for an extended holiday, not permanently. Will be back in KSA in good time for Ramadan though insha'Allah. :)

We sure have become spoiled with those big villas l_oman!

UmmAbdurRahman said...

My husband is living in one of those cramped apartments right now. there are currently 12 people living in a 2 bedroom apartment. It seems that babeloued is extra crowded. When my husband's plane descended over algiers for his first "visit" to his country in over 12 years he was really sad. He looked at all the land. He remembered the promises the government made and then walked into a small apartment to be shared by 11 other people. He was disgusted. The algerian people have been through a lot. Honestly, he can't wait to get out of there.

We're waiting for our apartment to be finished in beni messous. If it was done, I would probably go to algeria until he could come back to the US.

American Muslima Writer said...

SubhanAllah I thought I'd never imagine a whiole extended family in one houe until I was in the mountains with y in-laws all crammed into a few rooms but families are more socialble either because of this crmped quarters or some have no choice. It amazes me I lived in a modest house/trailer/apt. and as an only child i had my won room and then my husband tells me he shared his room with 2 sisters and 3 brothers. There was no private time. Subhan Allah. But that is just madness everyone and with their children too... subhanAllah. May Allah make it easy for them to live thorugh His tests.

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

UmmAbdurrahman: Yes, I think BEO is something else altogether subhan Allah. A real eye opener huh? :(

AMW: Same in Lebanon too huh? There are certainly advantages to living together but people do need their space and time for immediate family. No good when you haven't time for the small children because you are so busy cooking and cleaning for 20-25 people. :(