Saudi women push wheelchairs in Makkah’s Grand Mosque to make a living

Close-up of elderly woman's hands on wheelchair. (File photo: Shutterstock)

Despite the exhaustion from fasting and the scorching heat, Saudi women are working in the Grand Mosque by pushing disabled women pilgrims on wheelchairs.

The money they make from helping the disabled to perform their religious rites saves these women from begging, Alsharq daily reported.

Umm Muhammad Al-Shareef’s husband deserted her and the couple’s 12 children. She took her eldest child, a 17-year-old girl, to see if the two could earn a decent income to save the family from starvation.

“I am an old woman and I cannot bear hard work. I come with my daughter every day to watch and help her. We work with this wheelchair to help incapable women to perform Umrah. Despite the difficulty of the work here, halal money is better than begging or doing what is forbidden (Haram).”

Umm Maha Al-Enizi had been married for several years when her husband divorced her. He refused to support Umm Maha or their daughter and she had no choice but to look for a job so she can provide for herself and her daughter.

“I’m not educated so nobody wants to employ me. I visited the Haram frequently and realized that some Umrah pilgrims need someone who knows the rites and can help them perform Umrah including Tawaf (circumambulation of the Kaaba) and Saiy (the walk between the mounts of Safa and Marwa). So I decided I should try this and I succeeded. I have been working here for four years now," Umm Maha said.

"Despite the difficulty of the work, I am happy because this helps my 16-year-old daughter complete her education. In Ramadan, I work 12 hours daily to make the best use of the holy month because there are many Umrah pilgrims. The income helps me to pay the rent of my apartment.”

Umm Abdullah Al-Otaibi narrated the circumstances that forced her to work.

She said: “We are living in difficult circumstances. My husband is an old man. He has retired from work. I am a mother of four children. Even employed people find it difficult to make ends meet because of the high cost of living, so how about a family whose only income is their father’s pension and their residence is a rented apartment?”

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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