The Unsung Jalsa Heroes: Maintenance
By Rana Atta- Ur Rehman mta intl
It isn’t easy to spot them on a regular basis during Jalsa. At times you may see a van filled with men wearing crash hats, visibility vests and walkie-talkies. You may take a minute to ponder over what these guys might be up to; then again, you have other things to worry about. Jalsa Connect takes you into the life of the maintenance department. The unsung heroes of the Jalsa, some may call them.
The Jalsa site can be seen as a square on a map. The trouble is that this department’s base is found at the top right-hand corner of this square… maybe even the corner edge of it. Being so far away from the rest of us, these guys are making sure that our Jalsa runs smoothly on a technical basis. I managed to get a hold of the Naib Nazim of this department (Naeem Ahmad sahib), who had returned from unblocking a blockage at Jamia Ahmadiyya at 5am. After a few hours of rest, he decided that the first thing he shall do is give a brief insight into the World of Maintenance.
This is where the Heroes come to take a break.
He has been working under this department for the past 10 years and he describes his duty as:
“Basically, before Jalsa Salana gets underway, our duty is to make sure that we have done all the plumbing of this site. All the building work, construction and heating are also covered by our department. The first department to practically start work at Jalsa Salana is this department. We start around one month prior to Jalsa, and we are also the last department to stop working on site.”
He was thoroughly experienced without a shadow of a doubt. He was experienced in something that he would never forget for the rest of his life.
“Thinking back, the Jalsa that was held at the Rushmore Arena was a serious challenge. The reason for this is that we had to start our work there from February!! This was simply because we had no idea where its drainage system was. It was an unused land since the Second World War. The grass was seriously bushy and we had to find every single drainage lid with a metal detector. But even when we managed to find them, we came to see that rabbits had made them their habitats [laughs]. That was the hardest challenge we faced but a year later we moved here”.
By profession, the workers at this department are all professional plumbers, construction workers and brick Layers. It is a known fact that these people earn a good amount of money in their daily. However, they do not take a single penny while serving for the cause of Jalsa Salana.
When asked what his inspiration is to give up thousands of pounds for a couple of months to serve this cause, he replied with:
“10 years ago when I was looking to join a department to work for in Jalsa, I noticed a lot of my friends were signing up to do duties which required a lot of well dressing. But these guys (maintenance) only had 8 workers and they were certainly short on numbers. The reason for this is that in this department you have to wear dirty clothes constantly for 3 days. It is so difficult to wear these dirty, stinking clothes amongst 30,000 people. To then open one of these drains is not any person’s cup of tea. I thought to myself, if these guys can do it, what’s stopping me? This has been my inspiration ever since”.
It is at Jalsa that we come to realise that we may all come from different walks of life. To serve the Jama’at and to take care of the guests of the Promised Messiah (as), these workers are happy jump over any obstacle with a smile.