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In Somalia, Many Medics Chose Caring for COVID Patients Over Marking Eid

FILE - A medic tends to a patient in a coronavirus ward at Martini Hospital, in Mogadishu, Somalia, May, 13, 2020.
FILE - A medic tends to a patient in a coronavirus ward at Martini Hospital, in Mogadishu, Somalia, May, 13, 2020.

Somalia was among Muslim countries Saturday that performed Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Islamic observance of Ramadan.

Many Muslims across East and West Africa are celebrating the holiday, though the majority of Muslim nations observe it Sunday.

Muslims decide when Eid will be observed by the sighting of the moon. In countries where the moon is not sighted on the 29th day of Ramadan, people must complete the 30th day before celebrating. Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates, will observe Eid Sunday.

The Muslim holiday is always marked with celebrations, the reunion of family and friends, and a lot of feasting. This year, however, it is different due to coronavirus restrictions.

While most Somalis celebrated the holiday in their homes with their families, the frontline heroes helping COVID-19 patients have willingly sacrificed their celebrations and chose to stay at hospitals.

VOA's Somali Service spoke with two of them.

Ahmed Hassan Kulmiye, a 31-year-old nurse and father of three, works at Martini Hospital’s COVID-19 isolation center in Mogadishu. He worked his regular shift as his wife and his three children celebrated Eid at home.

"I marked Eid today with a mixture of happiness and sadness. I am happy that I have sacrificed for my patients and that I am saving lives. On the other hand, I was very sad that it was the first Eid I did not celebrate with my children and wife or friends,” Kulmiye said.

Instead, of wearing new clothes and shoes, as Muslims usually do on Eid, Kulmiye was in his protective gear to help patients recovering from COVID-19 at the isolation center.

“To at least revive the spirit of the Eid, we had breakfast and lunch together, of course in our protective gear, at our isolation center, and we invited COVID-19 patients who have recovered. Also, we sang Eid songs for the lonely patients at the center who, like us, could not be with their families and friends,” Kulmiye added.

Fardowso Mohamed Hassan, a 27-year-old nurse, was on duty at the isolation center and marked Eid away from her husband.

“I am happy to be doing a life-saving job, which is more important than a celebration of any kind,” said Fardowso. “Although I did not celebrate with my husband, friends and relatives, it made my day to take time with my patients and my colleagues at work.”

Fardowso said she used her break time at work by calling her husband and relatives via video to share the happiness of the day.

Kulmiye and Fardowso said they have spent the entire holy month of Ramadan fasting while working at Martini Hospital.

“Being [here] is very risky, but we have willingly chosen to help our fellow humans, Fardowso said.

“My conscience did not allow me to take a day off to celebrate and leave patients on ventilators behind. They needed us more than any other person,” Kulmiye said.