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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Filial obligation to an elderly parent: An observation in Yemen

I went to Yemen in Mac 2010 to teach in one of the modules under the Masters of Community Health Science programme offered by the Department of Community Health, UKM Medical Centre. The teaching was at the University Science Technology in Sanaa (capital of Yemen).

This is a private university located up on the hill and below it, is the Sanaa National University. I delivered lectures on the Principles of Family Health module. I was there for about two weeks and was able to visit Sanaa and Hadramout.

Apart from the daunting long hours of lectures and student presentation, I managed to find time to go sightseeing like visiting the old city of Sanaa, Dar Al Hajar (beautiful Yemeni architecture – a palace that grow out of a rock), Shibam-Seiyum-Tarim in Hadramout.

Of course not to forget eating out in Sanaa. The foods were delicious especially the rice – coloured rice. The hanging fresh fruits especially mango at the shops and stalls were very attractive – juicy drinks.

It was not my intention to be a tourist guide for Yemen but I want to share my observation regarding elderly care in Yemen. One that really catches me is the filial obligation of the sons to their parents. Being a Muslim country, of course filial obligation is being held strongly.

True enough, I had the opportunity to visit a friend’s house in Hadhramout, Yemen. He brought me and another collegue of mine to his house for lunch. I was so happy to be able to at last enter a real Yemeni house. This friend of mine together with his three sons and wife live in such a house. Four of his male siblings and their family too lives there together - with their mother. He has only one sister who lives in another area with her husband’s family. It was a three storey house, spacious for all of them. Cousins were very close with each other. They have a separate room for the men and ladies to rest and eat. The sister-in-laws and his wife were very close with each other and also with the mother-in-law. One thing for sure they were very friendly and very welcoming. My friend’s mother cook special food for us and made a special Yemeni tea with cuisine after lunch. All five daughters-in-law were very helpful to her.

My friend's mother appeared to be very happy and contented - she has all the love and support: physically, socially, mentally and spiritually. She receives love and share her love with her family members.

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