Saturday, 3 May 2008

A Father's Dilemna

I am presently tutoring three girls from the same Qatari family so I drive to the house twice a week. In my discussions with the father, I have realised how hard it must be for this nation to accept all of the changes being introduced here. Over the past 10 years there has been a huge amount of development occurring which has brought with it shopping centres, co-educational schools, western schools of thought (particulary in the field of education), other religious practices etc. This is a real dilemna for people who have been here for their entire life, brought their children up to be quite sheltered and protected from the outside world and yet who want to embrace the good things about western cultures while absolutely opposing the bad things. This father has three young women about to enter adulthood. They wear abayas dutifully when in public, but when at home they are as western as any young girl could be.  They have laptops of their own, television programs from all around the world and are attending a school with boys from many other cultures. Here in Qatar there is very little to do for kids except go to movies and shopping centres and fast food restaurants. But this father is unwilling to let his girls do any of these as he is afraid of what might happen. He knows about sexual promiscuity amongst teenagers in other countries, he sees that there is a liquor store in Doha now (only men can have a license to buy and must take the alcohol straight home), so he is truly worried and wants to bring his girls back to the safest place he can think of, which is home with him. The girls are not happy but are also stuck somewhere between cultures. I have to be very careful about the content of any passages I choose to teach them with and I always have to cover my shoulders and knees when I visit. So at the moment I, too, am stuck between two cultures. To be honest, we do not miss the alcoholic component of life and clearly see what damage it has done to places we call home. We are happy for our son also to be in this drug free environment. But it is lucky that there are many lovely girls on our compounds for him have genuine friendships with. More food for thought.

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