When Sky Rains Solidarity by Celia Ait Ouali, Algeria

I was 6 years old. It was my first year at school, and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was Saturday, November 10th, 2001, a rainy day in Algeria, especially in Algiers where I was living at the time.

That morning, I was in my bed, and I opened my eyes. The room was dark, and there was some light that came from the outside. It was cold, very cold. Outside, I heard the rain that hadn’t stopped since last night. For about twenty minutes I enjoyed the sound of rain, then I officially woke up. It was 07:15 am, and the day began well. I loved these autumn rainy days.

As usual I was with my my sister, Warda, who was 10, and we were getting ourselves ready to get on our way to school with our friends. At 07:50 am, we left the house. Outside, the sky was gray and the streets were full of water. We had difficulty walking to school because of the water that was everywhere. People were running to get to their school or work. I couldn’t feel my hands and my feet because of the cold.

Once we were in the classroom everything was okay. We studied as usual until 11:40 am, and the teacher told us that today we should go home earlier and that we won’t study in the evening. As children, we didn’t think about why she said that. At 11:45 am, the bell rang. We left the school and was still raining. I met up with Warda and we went home together.

On our way home, we saw a huge truck in the street and a group of young people collecting blankets and old clothes which people had thrown from their windows. I didn’t understand anything! What happened? Why were these people collecting things?

We arrived home and we found my parents talking about a flood, touched and sad, watching the news on the TV. More than 400 were dead in Beb El Oued city because of the flood. Many cars were flooded. People on TV were taking to people who didn’t have anywhere to go. At that moment, I understood why people were collecting blankets and trying to help each other. We spent the whole day watching the news. Everyone was calling everyone on the phone to make sure they were okay or to help people who were affected by the flood.

That day was such a sad day. Algeria was crying for its sons and daughters, filled with sadness. It was another trauma added to the history of Algeria. But also, that day was a solidarity lesson for me and for every one of us. It was the day where I saw Algerians showing themselves as one from east to west and from north to south. That day I learned that at the end what matters most is that we are all sisters and brothers.

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