This is not a complain because I believe no one will be listening. This is neither a question because I know there are definitely answers for it ;nor this any quality improvement suggestion because I know things will be the same again next year. This is more of a frustration that I have experienced while going for Haj this year with Tabung haji Muassasah which I know could be done better; we deserved to be treated a lot better. I was placed in Maktab 94 along with other 400 or so jemaah haji (JH) Malaysia. When the journey started from Kelana Jaya, we were taken to the airport with a convoy of buses; whisking through the busy highways with motorists had to stop and gave us the way. We felt so proud and so mighty when everyone tried to take a glimpse of our buses and trying to figure out where we taken to. I guess that’s the only memorable thing about this trip. The charted Saudia plane took off around 1.30 in the morning. It was an old plane with no movies or games to kill the jitters away. When asked , the Indon stewardess harshly told us off with some excuses. She was rude for a cabin crew of an international airline. So there was nothing else to do for the rest of the long flight to Jeddah except sleeping and dreaming for a better day tomorrow.
The morning air in Jeddah was cool and refreshing. An Indon guy came around and offered a prepaid. Ah- he must know this business very well as there is good money in it. I bought one I think and my wife bought hers later on in Makkah. The phone is one thing you must have with you , working and all, all the time. Especially if you have other member of your family with you. Each one must have a working handset—for communication purposes. So that one I think cost me about 40 riyals. We called home and told them we have arrived in Jeddah and everything was Okay. Yes indeed so far things have been surprisingly good. We got on the bus and taken to Makkah to a place called Misfalah about 1.5 km form the Grand Mosque. The place that will be our home for the next month or so. The hotel was good; everything including the bed, the toilet and the airconditioner are in order.
…and the food……..
Well,the food was good at first but then after a few days it had started to turn into a squirmish thing stuffed in an aluminium container. We complained but ,you know, when one complaint was replied with a thousand excuses, we knew it was not going anywhere. And Tabung Haji staff just could not do anything other than just giving excuses regarding the massive volume that they have to cater for. Then later the food just not fit for human consumption at all; we could see them all littered around the dustbin and along the alley.
In Arafah, the food was better and tastier. Unfortunately, one JH choked and died while eating the food. Can you imagine the status of medical aid that we had over there? Unbelievably minimal not as we were told during the course that medical help is a non-issue, they have plenty of doctors to go around. Not very true I’m afraid. During the flight back I had a medical emergency and came to know that there was no TH doctor on the flight.
Mina was a nightmare for Maktab 94. We had many senior citizens among us and many had to take medication and that means they have to have their meals on time. On the first day we saw our lunch pack at 7 in the evening and dinner pack at 1 a.m. in the morning. Then when we complained, the second day saw a normal meal time; but then the third day it was a mess again. Again TH staff just could not say much and told us off with some excuses. On the third day we were to leave for Makkah and waited for the bus to come and picked us up. The buses were supposed to come in the morning but not seen until late afternoon. No breakfast or lunch were provided so you can imagine how hungry we all were, running around to catch a bus that was already filled up. Many of us were so exhausted including our pakcik and makcik that never complained because they believed in TH and how TH would never make them suffer. I saw them with a shattered heart and flowing tears; swearing to my dear God that when I returned I would let everyone back home knows the real situation.That’s the motivation for writing this article. I would sent my old mom to haj under TH care because I believed they can take care of her but believe me if she could not run like the others she would be left there alone.The truth is –no one really cared. Usually the the travelling time from Mina to Makkah is about half an hour in a normal day but that day it took us 7-8 hours to reach Makkah. Some of the buses could not reach our hotel as they stucked in the traffic jam; so my pakcik and makcik had to walk for a good distance with the empty stomach and their bags to reach the hotel rooms. And during all these ordeals no one form TH were in sight. No ONE. One of our pakcik had a heart attack due to the stress and died. We offered prayers for him after Fajr the next morning. The thing that I don’t understand is that TH dealt with these circumstances as if they have done it for the first time. I think someone should go to TH headquarters and shake up the building for they have been sleeping for a long time now. It’s time to let them know that the honeymoon time in Makkah and Medina has long passed, they have to buck up and do some work for our pakcik and makcik. The living condition in Mina also was beyond anyone’s imagination. The worst scenario was at the toilets. What would you feel when your bladder was about to explode and you went rushing to the toilet just to see a queue with 5-6 persons infront of you.Terrible is not a good word for it; “^%$#!” is more like it. But JH had their own solution for it by peeing into the mineral bottles. It’s true and the phrase “desperate situations demand desperate measures” was proved in living colors. One makcik from Thailand (we shared the place with JH from Thailand) desperately needed to go but as the queue was long she just did it right there in front of us. I just could not believe my eyes and turned away; my toilet session had turned into something else…it was the edge of insanity.
I passed by an old makcik once ,while in Mina,and wondering why she was runsacking the garbage bin. The bin was full of dirty gluey phlegm, spit and what not.”What are you doing makcik?” I asked in Malay. “Makcik had a gigi palsu on, then makcik coughed and vommited into this bin and lost the gigi palsu with it….I am looking for it now” she said desperately as she dipped into the bin further down. “ Oh My God!” I said to myself a few times. I did not know what to do and pity this makcik but I was not going to dip my hands into that dirty gluey garbage, NO!. That was too much for me. No one from TH was there to help her.I left and did not have a heart to turned and see whether that makcik was still there or not.
Everytime when TH or any media in Malaysia talk about haj and jemaah haji Malaysia, we are flashed with the smiling faces of JH doing something in Arafah or Mina. The reality is far beyond that and the worst thing is that many of JH believe whatever happened to them is a predetermination and for them to endure such difficulties. I just could not let this whole terrible things to continue, that’s all, because from my experience TH can do a lot better and we, including my pakciks and makciks, deserve a lot better. TH has failed in many areas of this whole haj operations and they have to shake up a few bee hives to correct some of them. I hope no one will ever have to experience haj as I did last season.