Written by Hind Abbas, CARE Yemen
New years are often new beginnings. A new chance to live differently, change what we don’t like and learn from past experiences. For me, 2017 was a year full of learnings. I have been working with CARE Yemen as a communication assistant for almost the entire twelve months. During this year, I have met wonderful people whose passion and devotion to serve the people of Yemen in the midst of crisis has deeply touched me. I have learned from each and every one I have worked with.
Hind Abbas/CARE 2017
Although it was very challenging due to the situation of my country, being a part of CARE made me feel I am serving my people during this difficult time.
The smell of chocolate fudge cake and coffee in the holiday season brings precious and valuable memories to my heart. I remember on New Year Eve I used to go out with my best friend. We went to the stationary shop and bought the prettiest notebooks we could find. Then we went to our favorite coffee shop, ordered coffee and a warm piece of chocolate fudge cake that we used to share. After that we sat there for hours, writing a long list of plans and wishes in our new pretty notebooks. With every year and with us getting older our plans, notebooks, wishes and dreams grew bigger.
As we grew in age life became challenging and complicated. Today my friends live on the other side of the world. The war in Yemen has been raging for almost three years and it was hard for them to come back. They aren’t the only one’s who left their home country. Thousands of people have fled Yemen. Even more people – more than three million – are internally displaced. They have left their families, friends and neighbors either in search for a better life or for survival. Their lives have been turned upside down, their future is uncertain. Some lost their houses, others lost their family members and everything they once owned.
Walking in the streets of Sana’a three years ago was very different to what it is like now. The damaged and destroyed buildings and shops breaks my heart into pieces. Sometimes I wish that this is just a bad nightmare that will disappear once I open my eyes. But unfortunately it’s reality. Almost three years of war have caused a severe damage in the infrastructure of the country and most importantly effected the lives of people. People are trying to survive and cope in whatever way they can. But you can see a story of suffering in everyone’s face. They are so tired – physically and emotionally. They have spent hundreds of hours hiding in basements and corners during airstrikes or ground shelling. They have been waiting in long lines for water and cooking gas. At the same time, you can see how they don’t want to let go of their futures, their lives. They hopeful, joyful and try to find ways to laugh and joke.
Over the past year, the situation has been deteriorating day after day. The closure of the ports has caused severe damage to the already dire economic situation, leaving eight million people on the brink of famine. The prices of the food, fuel and medicine have raised up to 60 percent. Yet the Yemeni people remain generous, even if they barely have one meal a day. When I visited some of the villages worst affected, people who barely have bread and milk welcomed us with an open heart to have lunch with them. It is an absolute shame that those kind hearted and generous souls are suffering on a daily basis.
What people in Yemen wish for as 2018 approaches? They wish they can sleep without worrying about the future. They want to live a peaceful life, where normalcy and stability, not fear and hunger are dominant. They wish to have electricity, access to safe water, they wish that their children can go to school. They wish to walk the streets without being afraid of an airstrike or sudden clashes. They simply wish to be able to dream again.
Everywhere I have been here in Yemen this year the situation is catastrophic. In the north, in the south, in the city and in the villages people are struggling and they are desperate for peace. I wish I would have a magical stick with which I could turn this humanitarian catastrophe into a place where everyone can live in peace and can dream of a brighter future. I will not share coffee and chocolate brownies with my friend this year. I will not be able to buy a new, beautiful notebook and enjoy my best friend’s company. But I do know exactly what I will wish for. I wish to see a true smile on people’s faces again, and I wish that the world will stand with the people of Yemen and look at them with the eyes of humanity.
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