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.