‘Why is the world looking away’? Gisela Hofmann on Yemen

Gisela Hofmann is a German friend who, literally, lives for Yemen. Throughout the years, she lived in the country, learnt Arabic and has become a peace advocate.
Gisela sent me a letter asking to publish it. It is her cry, the cry of a woman who has loved ones under constant bombs and castrated by a siege. Gisela cannot visit her ‘family in Sanaa’ and dreams of the day she will be reunited with them.
In the meantime, eight-hundred days have passed since that first bomb dropped on Yemen in the night of March 26 2015. The country has been totally destroyed, official figures estimate over ten thousand casualties, a child dead every ten minutes succumbing to preventable diseases, over fourteen million food insecure, three million internally displaced, a third cholera outbreak which has claimed lives of over six hundred people with a skyrocketing seventy thousand suspected cases.
Yemen has collapsed, Gisela dreams of peace and writes:

”For more than fifteen years, we have been personally associated with Yemen enjoying a close friendship with a family in Sanaa.
Throughout these years, we were able to stay with our friend-family twice a year, every year. We also lived for several months in Sanaa in a rented a flat.
Our visit in November 2014 would be the last for a long time. We did not suspect this at the time. Since then, we are only connected via internet, though this is not continuously possible for a variety of reasons but, basically, our friends have no electricity and have no money.

We are suffering, we feel helpless: we cannot do anything for our beloved family.
Since the beginning of  the Yemen-war and the suffering of the population, this country has been in the shadow of all other political “proxy wars”.
I would like to talk about my friends and family members, I want to describe their current life situation.
My heart is heavy when I think of them. Especially the children and my warm-hearted women-friends. I know how they feel, although I never hear complaints despite the very difficult situation. The humility and pride of these generous people does not allow it.
The following lines are dedicated to Mohammed, Latifa, and Safia and their families (how much I miss them):

“Why  is the world looking away?
I’d like to write  about the current life of the citizens in Yemen. I can report what I am constantly being told by my friends as, for myself, it is not possible in the current situation to return to Yemen: Sanaa airport is under  Saudi-led Coalition imposed blockade and it has also been partially destroyed by airstrikes..
The biggest problem posed by the siege is that for Yemenis there is no way to let vital relief supplies and aid be brought into the country.
If you run a finger on the map, throughout the whole country, you realise that the important main roads, transport routes and sea ports have been destroyed. This means that the urgent transport of aid and relief supply to the suffering people, to hospitals and distribution of safe, drinking water to villages is impossible or extremely difficult.
People outside the cities are abandoned and can depend exclusively on themselves.
Nobody looks, takes care of the population as military strategies are in the foreground. With few exceptions, there are no foreign embassies and/or diplomatic representatives in the country.
It is close to impossible for the  people of Yemen to  flee elsewhere. Even for families living abroad it is difficult to care for the loved ones gripped in the famine-cholera-aggression- torn homeland. Flights to and from Yemen are virtually close to zero and escaping to neighboring countries requires money which Yemenis do not have.

It is neighboring Saudi Arabia leading the war on Yemen. Since 26 March 2015, the Saudi led Coalition has kept Yemen under continuous military attacks.
Like in any given war, the simple, common people are those suffering the unthinkable.
Primarily children, sick people and the elderly.
The children of our friends-family have been out of school for months in a row out of fear of air-raids, or because schools were closed or teachers on strike having received no salary for over eight months.
A friend’s daughter contracted hepatitis caused by contaminated water. In order to receive immediate medical treatment, the family had to sell the last personal possessions. The treatment lasted longer than normal because the child was malnourished. Malnutrition maims the immune system of weakened children making them more prone to diseases.
The father of the little girl  had to donate his own blood to treat her and has, since then, been donating regularly to help others in need.The current situation allows many families to virtually just vegetate, exist, nothing else. A graceful life is no longer possible.
Schools, hospitals have shut down: government personnel have been out of salary for eight – nine months.
In the meantime, prices are soaring. A bottle of gas costs five times as much as compared to the beginning of 2015. Most people cannot afford it any longer: they use what they can to make a fire.
Speculation is rampant: some much-needed items must be bought exclusively in dollars cutting off most of the population.

There are those who have lost everything because of an airstrike: home and loved ones. Yemen is in a constant mourning.

The world is wrapped in silence, passively supporting these eight-hundred days of war crimes against the Yemeni population. Syria and Iraq have overshadowed the plight of Yemenis.
In spite of pain and suffering, there is life, though. There are tireless people, fighting with heart and intelligence for the future of Yemen. These people fight  with peaceful means vehemently against Yemen’s unjust, forgotten war.

A termination of the aggression is imperative. If I look at the situation of Yemen I feel anger along with an inexpressible sadness, because I see what  this country has become.

In the 1980s, at the time of  Ali Abdallah Saleh’s leadership, perhaps the country began slowly to open and move forwards. Yemenis saw progress in their own land and enjoyed international recognition.  After the Unification of South and North Yemen in 1990, a flourishing period began, starting from tourism. People from all parts of the world visited the long closed, untouched, historical country. Tourism became the largest employer of Yemen. Now even archaeological sites have fallen victim of indiscriminate air-raids, even towns and monuments protected by the UNESCO. Treasures of mankind have been lost, forever.

An immediate halt to the inconsiderate arms deals and sales to those aggressing Yemen, would represent a huge step towards the end of the war  on my second home. It would push the sides involved in the conflict to find solutions, involving only diplomatic means.
Had it happened before, many Yemeni children would still be alive and the homes of countless Yemenis would not be in rubbles.

Last February there was a defence and arms exhibition, ‘only’ 2500 km from Yemen. Weapons worth billions of dollars were sold while back in Yemen a nation was and is starving to death.
This forgotten country needs more attention. It is important tell to the world about the suffering of Yemenis who are at their limit. They cannot take it any longer.
The first article of our German basic law states: “Human dignity is untouchable”.
It should apply also to Yemenis. ”

Gisela Hofmann

Keep fighting, if you can hear me, keep fighting

We made up during the war when you returnt to Sanaa because you were injured. Silly things, futilities had divided us but I was so proud of you: going to the front, too young, just for your country. 
Finding each other, again, has been one of the few sensible things I have ever done  in my life.
I told you I loved you and still cared for you the same way. And you taught me to open my mouth during airstrikes and that no, fear was not admitted. Fear for what?
You are in ICU now, injured again. They brought you back from the front last night.
There are so many things I would like to tell you because you are too young to succumb to this war.
Just know I love you and miss you, always.
Keep fighting, if you can hear me, keep fighting. For yourself now.
My Little Brother, Hamoudi.

(I remember these words of Leo Buscaglia now:

‘There was a girl who gave me a poem, and she gave me permission to share it with you, and I want to do that because it explains about putting off and putting off and putting off – especially putting off caring about people we really love. She wants to remain anonymous, but she calls the poem
“THINGS YOU DIDN’T DO” and she says this”:
Remember the day I borrowed your brand new car and I dented it?
I thought you’d kill me, but you didn’t.
And remember the time I dragged you to the beach, and you said it would rain, and it did?
I thought you’d say, “I told you so.” But you didn’t.
Do you remember the time I flirted with all the guys to make you jealous, and you were?
I thought you’d leave me, but you didn’t.
Do you remember the time I spilled strawberry pie all over your car rug?
I thought you’d hit me, but you didn’t.
And remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was formal and you showed up in jeans?
I thought you’d drop me, but you didn’t.
Yes, there were lots of things you didn’t do,
But you put up with me, and you loved me, and you protected me.
There were lots of things I wanted to make up to you when you returned from Vietnam.
But you didn’t.”

On Human Rights Day

Dedicating a day to those with disabilities, the hungry, the grandparents, lovers, teachers, children, human rights, healthy cooking, left handers, penguins, migrants  remains – as of 2016 – a farce.
The day of speeches and ribbon cutting ceremonies, a toast and a lunch in full fanfare show a reality fully disconnected from the ground, from our lives.

On a day like today, Human Rights Day, I received a message from Bob Oorts, founder of World Peace Embassy (obnoxiously we still believe in peace) which reflects all my thoughts:

For 7 years I wrote for WORLD PEACE and made over 6000 posters for the same. I thought that over 1 billion Facebook users were the answer to end all this unimaginable suffering – unimaginable to those who don’t live in war zones, refugee camps, forced slavery, or false imprisonment – apparently.

For every day on the net, now, after 7 years, I feel myself slipping into a deep resentment of living in what I can only describe as nothing short of hell – not for me, but for all those, especially children and animals, who are suffering the consequences of a barbaric society that is unwilling to find the way to Peace.

The new generation is left with what the old generations have provided, false doctrines and lies that are established as normality while truth does not enter the conscience.

The legacy all those adults, preachers, politicians, “world Leaders”, social “experts”, parents and partners have provided for children from the day they are born is near to impossible to erase – “near to impossible” because somewhere there still flickers a glimmer of hope that people begin to see how insane and barbaric this society really is and that without change there will never be an end to wars, destruction, and intolerable suffering.

Seven years ago I started out writing for World Peace while still believing that most people live with a common but silent wish to see this world become a better place. But 7 years have shown me the reality about most people. They may want Peace, but everything else comes first – religion, politics, materialism, ego and the illusion of millenniums old conditioning that there are justified reasons for killing either human or animal.

There are no justified reasons for killing either human or animal, nor to put either through the living hell of torture and sadistic exploitation and abuse – nothing, no religion, no belief, no political propaganda, can justify any of this atrocious behavior and be seen as more important than World Peace.

It’s ironic beyond the joke that one who writes for World Peace due to a love of Life, people, animals, and environment, finds him/herself caught up in a web of insensitive words resulting in resenting the only species that can turn things around and in the process lose friends and make enemies. Shall I keep on writing? – words are slipping from my memory, it has become a mental mission impossible game of wits with apathetic ignorance.

While reading Bob’s words, the news came from Aden, Yemen, of an ISIS suicide attack at Al-Sawlaban military camp claiming the lives of soldiers who were just queuing to get their salary.
Nisma Mansoor, a university student who blogs and thinks sharply never forgetting her heart, soon after wrote:

It’s scary to live like this every single day,
Not knowing where the next bomb will be,
Not knowing if the car next to you will explode,
Not knowing if your love one will make it home safe,
Not knowing if you yourself will die as one peace or will turn to million pieces.Rest in Peace all poor soldiers who were in line for their salaries to feed their families

I do not know if the ‘die as one peace’ was meant as ‘piece’. Freudian.

In the meantime, the US has approved a 7.9 billion dollar arms deal to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates despite the evident war crimes committed in Yemen.
Much of a human rights day.
We are victims of our own madness.
What a relief: it’s tomorrow already. Just hope Bob continues to write.

Ahmed Nusfaleal: Sanaa through my eyes, for you

Our friend Ahmed Nusfaleal travelled more than 10 hours to reach Sanaa.
One hundred and fifty km, in times of war and road blocks, check-points and madness of these days, meant a detour of additional, tiring hours. With no certainty to reach, safely, the Capital. Literally, a trip into the unknown.

Still, when Ahmed reached Sanaa, he took these pictures to share with the world.
He invites everyone to see Sanaa through his eyes: the people, the Old City, the markets, the sellers, the smiles. The herbs, the flowers, goat milk, As-Saylah (the wadi which – in monsoon season becomes a river), the centuries old architecture, people getting ready to celebrate weddings and that strong, unbeatable will to accept anything which happens and might come with dignity and strength. With a humble acceptance. Yemen is stronger than any war. Yemen will overcome difficult times because, as Ahmed says: ”On the occasion of weddings, we are dancing in the streets. We are the people of happiness. We are the people who dance and overcome anything, the difficulties and the crisis and the war without worry or fear. Twenty four hours after twenty-four hours, we fight back and accept. And carry on.”
He ends with a message of hope: ”It has been raining a lot this season and our land has been blessed with rainbows. Rainbows will bring peace.”

Sooner or later, they will Ahmed.

Souqh al Mihl, Old City of Sanaa


Souqh al Mihl, Old City of Sanaa


Souqh al Mihl, Old City of Sanaa

Bab Barrum Quarter and Saylah after the rain – Old City of Sanaa
In front of Al Qasimi quarter, Old City of Sanaa . The area was hit by a Saudi missile in the first hours of June 12 2015. Nothing stands any longer
Music at Bab el Yemen, Old City of Sanaa
Music in the Old City of Sanaa
Souq al Milh, Old City of Sanaa
Souq al Milh, Old City of Sanaa
Herbs and flowers sellers, Sanaa
As-Saylah, just after a night of rain. Old City of Sanaa
Sanaa, after the rain and Saylah turnt into a river



Never forget the smiles from Yemen

All pictures: Ahmed Nusfaleal

The Nile Blues of Danilo Vallarino

 ”I live in Ethiopia in Bahir Dar in the region of Amara. I have been here for 26 months, my first working experience abroad, apart from a summer I spent working in a hotel in France.
Bahir Dar is a tourist destination, ranked among the 10 most beautiful cities of Africa, being near to the waterfalls and the source of the Blue Nile.”

Danilo Vallarino is humble,  timid almost. At times he seems to be carrying an ancient melancholy in him.
He arrived to Africa more than two years ago, following his job call. He is a Chef and when asked how can an Italian cope with the difference of ingredients available on the market, the tastes of the different latitude, – Ethiopia is not Italy, his home country – he makes no fuss: ”Not easy, but I manage. And every chef up to his job simply goes to the market!’.

He tells me this is not the Africa of the safaris, the Africa people generally have in mind.
His is the Africa of the Blue Nile river which, within Ethiopia, runs over 800 km and is the longest river of the continent. But it is in Ethiopia it holds its heart running up to Khartoum to meet the White Nile and give life to the entire Egypt.
The Blue Nile Falls are about an hour by car from Bahar Dar and then there are all the Orthodox monasteries on the Lake Tana, where the Blue Nile originates. In its own way, this is a very special tourist destination.


For the past 15 years, Danilo has a companion. Better, two: an Olympus and a Nikon. He always carries them along. Even when he goes out just for two hours.

Sometimes, even when he is cooking. He does not photograph food – there is plenty of that in the net – he takes shots of people working with him. The smiles at the end of a difficult evening, the vapours and the aprons. Sometimes a hug, when a dish has come out particularly well.
From the kitchen of the hotel where he works, he looks outside. Ethiopia is there.
The Blue Nile chanting its blues. It´s a call he answers once a week, on his day off.



”I always carry the camera with me, even when I go out for just two hours. Even before Ethiopia, when I was in Italy. The nature, nature itself, in its most savage – or natural – form, or people, daily life, the ordinary, are mind blowing to me. The lights at the end of the day when all these people have is a piece of bread, to share. The markets where people sell anything and fix anything. The workers, the basket weavers, the farmers.. virtually anything  which is natural.” 


Do you manage to talk to people? To discover their stories?
”It is not easy to photograph them. At times people do not like it; at times someone asks for money. But I do not buy a photo. It would not be natural. So I have some patterns I follow  tricks – that help me.” 

”A real Chef goes to the market” Danilo believes. It it also a way for him to know people and be close to them


He adds that a picture is obviously not merely a picture: there is always a story behind it.
”Sometimes I venture out alone and find myself in a crowd, surrounded by so many people. Each one of the men, women I meet bears on the face, hands and feet a databank of endless information. It is up to us to decode it, read it.”
”The women at the market, for instance, always remind me of delicate ceramic creations. They face the scorching sun all day long, selling little to earn even less. These women are a delicate equilibrium of its own kind. I always fear they might break. Yet, they are so strong.”


 I happened to read a couple of poems of Danilo. Delicate, angry, sometimes sharp.
When I try to tell him, he distances himself from the concept of being a poet of any kind.
”I do not consider myself good at writing, but thank you anyway. I use angry words, true. Because anger is a part of me. I am often pissed. But it is a form of struggle I engage in, always, in order to never accept anything which is being served in front of me. But it is from that very same anger inside me that love grows. If only I could rely on more inner peace, then I think I would be a better person. Especially for those around me. Human relations are all we have. They should always come first.”


Ethiopia is already a part of him. Ethiopia has changed him. He is one of the few people I  met who does not use the experience abroad as a platform to move on in life.
” I see the gap now. It happens when I return to Italy. I may be talking to my family, or anyone, and people pay attention to what you have to say for no longer than 5 minutes. I realise at a certain moment no one is listening. Someone interrupts me just to mention the Champions League.. just while I was trying say Hey, I was telling you about the women who every single day walk for hours carrying 15 litres of water on their head, bare feet. They look like mules…”
”I really do not know if people are not interested or prefer to ignore there is another reality, uncomfortable one. Maybe it’s a way to keep the conscience at bay.”

His conscience is not at bay.
”I do have a project, you know? It´s a big word, can I say it? It´s PEACE, in its broadest sense. Starting from inner peace. But relating to Ethiopia, I would like, one day, to publish a photographic book and try to help a small community. With no institutional help, no association involved. I think the biggest danger we run in places like this is darkness when it comes to historical memory. I will try to explain it: here, as in many other countries, there has never been an ‘age of the camera film roll‘. Nowadays people take pictures with their smartphones. Selfies and alike. Horrible. They think they are giving a sense of modernity and progress. But if you do not print, you are most likely going to lose everything. Pages of history and memory. What we received, as a society, has always been transmitted to us by stone, wood and paper. We need to print. A digital file is nothing. This is what I am planning to do: preserve for the future. Transmit. I do this also for my children who represent my bridge to the future. They might understand who their father was.”

Danilo, most likely, will leave Ethiopia at the end of the year. His children await him.
”I love this people. There are times I get so angry when we work together but there is a fundamental attraction, a sense of belonging. Otherwise I would not have stayed. Fact is my children need me.”

The Blue Nile is chanting and returning to Italy will not stop it.11755909_507054052781119_1058695893138987668_n
Danilo will never, really, leave Ethiopia. He will come back, not only for the book.


all photographs: © Danilo Vallarino


A Day for Yemen in Paris

Un Jour au Yémen,يوم اليمن في باريس ، A Day In Yemen Paris May 28th

Salam for Yemen is an International Initiative for Peace in Yemen,  a social and humanitarian initiative, without any political or religious links, aiming to enhance the security, the stability and a lasting peace for all Yemeni citizens. The members of this collective belong to various nationalities, all over the world, all united for PEACE.

On these grounds, SFY is organizing a day for Yemen in Paris on May 28th to celebrate Yemen, whose people and heritage are in acute danger, and to raise awareness for a country in need of help and solidarity.
A country which needs not to be forgotten and needs to be advocated.
On May 28, Salam for Yemen will uncover exhibitions, films, live music and experts who will debating at the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture 

تنظم جمعية SFY سلام من اجل اليمن
يوم يمني في باريس يوم السبت 28 مايو القادم . علي العنوان المرفق في المنشور ادناه
اليمن وشعبه وتراثه الأنساني في خطر، شاركونا لجلب الانتباه ولتوعية العالم من حولنا .
اليمن بحاجة لدعمكم وتضامنكم
يوم حافل بعرض أفلام وصور فوتوغرافية ورسوم فنية ومحاضرات لكبار الباحثين والمهتمين باليمن مع وصلات فنية ومأكولات يمنية
SFY organise une journée pour le Yémen à Paris le 28 mai pour célébrer le Yémen, dont les habitants et le patrimoine sont en danger, et pour sensibiliser les gens car le Yémen a besoin de votre aide et solidarité.

The event will take place at : École Spéciale d’Architecture, 254 Bd Raspail, 75014, Paris

From 10:00AM to 10:PM
Metro station : Raspail, line 6

10:00 AM – 1:00PM: Films
– A New Day in Old Sanaa, Bader Ben Hirsi
– Théodore Monod : Le Vieil Homme et la fleur, José Marie Bel
– Trésors du Yémen (documentary), Sadek Alsaar



Portrait Of A Young Man In Amber Eyes by Eric Lafforgue


2:00PM – 2:30PM: “Aden, a Yemeni mythical port, on the footsteps of Raimbaud” By Mr José Marie Bel, PhD in Plastic Arts, conservator, specialized on Yemeni Architecture, President of the ” Espace Reine de Sabaa “
2:30PM – 3:00PM: “Shabwa and its architectural and artistic context” by Mr Jean-François Breton, Archeologist and Historian, Research Director at CNRS, ex-Director at CFEE
3:00PM – 3:30PM: Mr.Mégo Terzian, Doctors Without Borders’ President 3:30PM – 4:00PM: “One year of conflict in Yemen” by Mr Laurent Bonnefoy Researcher in political science at the CNRS, CERI / Science Po Paris, currently deputy principal investigator of the European Research Council Advanced Grant. He specializes in the Arabian Peninsula.
4:00PM – 4:30PM: “Yemeni vernacular architecture” by Paul Bonnenfant Sociologist, former senior researcher at the CNRS, associated researcher à the IREMAM (Aix-en-Provence), works on traditional architecture mainly in the Arabian Peninsula.
4:30PM – 5:00PM: “Antique jewelry in pre-islamic South Arabia” by Mrs Leïla Ali Aquil, PhD in archeology.
5:00PM – 5:30PM: “Yemen’s heritage in danger” by Mr Jean Lambert, teacher/researcher in anthropology and musicology at Musée de l’Homme, Anthropologist and ethnomusicologist, permanent associated professor at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle of Paris, researcher at the Centre de Recherche en Ethnomusicologie . He is a former director of this center (2009-2014) and of the CEFAS
5:30PM – 6:00PM: Mr Sadek Alsaar, Salam For Yémen


7:00PM – 10:00PM: CONCERTS


Acid Arab


— Berry Hayward, American musician, Orchestra conductor at Maison des métallos – Aleksandar Petrov & Nenad Elmaz, Macedonian Musicians – Redwan Al Salahi, Yemeni musician, organist

– – Shadi Khries, Dj, percussionist member of ACID ARAB





– Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Photos of Yemen from the Sky
– Eric Lafforgue, Yemeni portrays
 – Guillaume Binet An Ignored War
– Peggy Crawford, Yemeni Architecture
– Stephanie Ledoux, Travel diaries
– José Marie Bel, Dessins d’architecture
– Aurélie Pedrajas, Travel diaries

Voices for Change: speaking for Yemen

              VOICES FOR CHANGE – November 25 project – has been on the net, and Facebook, for the past 6 years with just one aim: spreading awareness and drawing people together in the name of PEACE.
No political, religious, moral affiliation, just peace.
As reported on its website, a day has been chosen – November 25 – to reconsider where we stand in this world of ours:

has remained unchanged since 2010. There is no other way to WORLD PEACE but for
people to acknowledge that our historic evolution as a thinking species has failed and has left each next generation with a heavier burden to carry. This world needs change, people need to change. We, humans, need to rethink what on Earth we are doing.
Consciousness is the way to our Conscience, which tells us right from wrong. November 25 gives us all a day free of conditioned activity to reflect on where we are and where we are going, and to be guided by our findings 364 days a year.´´

The Group has been attending peace rallies from London to New York, organising concerts and small gatherings in Australia, meeting young students in Portugal and advocating for animal rights in France and Nepal, first aiding in Nepal during the earthquake and writing to the UN on several occasions to ask for reasoning and true commitment, not the farce we have always witnessed.


Voices for Change has always paid special attention and been close to Yemen (Faces of Yemen ), recognising the pure soul of the country and denouncing the war mongers’ agenda played on the skin of the Yemeni people. There have been rivers of blood running with little coverage from the media. The world turnt its face away, especially since the war started the night of 26 March 2015 when Yemenis went to bed and woke up to the sound of missiles and bombs from the Saudi-led warplanes. Nothing less than a crime against humanity.

vfc y

As the founder of Voices for Change, Bob Oort, states:
[Our project] Is about people, every day people who have lives and when left in peace will return the same with hospitality and kindness. Those committing such crimes on humanity as in Yemen (and everywhere in the world) are demons possessed people if not demons themselves. Wars are not created by people who ask for no more but their needs to live and care for their children.The power obsessed know nothing of Life, they only know about the false wealth within their gold-laced palaces, palaces that do not breathe except on the smell of oil and war arsenal. These are the people who shake hands with their own kind while holding a loaded gun behind their back. They have the means to create World Peace any tick of the clock, but they choose war, murder, genocide and the destruction of anything that is sacred to Life. Their lives are built on the history of dynastic and empirical warfare and enslavement of humans and animals alike.Consciousness is available to anyone who so chooses. It is the way to the heart and soul where the conscience of every man and woman lives. Consciousness is the door to the Conscience – where the keys to Peace and Harmony are kept. That door has no lock, it can be opened by anyone who chooses to do so, no exceptions.´´

Thinking of Z., my friend. A Peace Worker

While my personal life was being swallowed by far too big historical events,  a friend  was leaving everything behind.  Everything means the country she so loved, cultivated with her back parallel to the soil, barehand, seeding a new tomorrow, where she painted and her life rotated with the moons and the rains, the changing of the seasons and the heartbeat of mother nature.
She had to leave. I am sure she never wanted to do so. Notwithstanding the 30-something years of war, she was one with the habitat  and what she was doing, with the earth below her feet and her sheltering sky.
My friend is one of the humblest persons I know and it strikes as being humble is sort of passé these days.

Of herself, only once, she said publicly: ‘Yes I am a journalist . I lived and worked mainly in Pakistan and Afghanistan for 35 years. With a spell in the Gulf too. ‘War Correspondent‘ is the term. But I was much more than just this. A Peace worker who worked for Women/Children’s rights, with farmers to rebuild agriculture, etc.. etc. I had my own Peace Project in what became – and is – a Taliban area of Afghanistan. The latter was, in many respects, the sum of my life’s dream….one which, in time, became a nightmare and I am commenting no further’.

We have never openly spoken about what happened to us. What we saw, how we felt, what we were forced to witness and swallow, the shattered dreams, what eventually we had to leave behind (nothing to do with personal belongings).
She knows I somehow know, I know she would understand.
Point is we both acknowledge some shadows cannot be left behind.
What happened to us is that we acquired what she calls  raw emotions, additional screams: ‘The kind of scream that you and I hear and feel all the time. I pray that you are managing in your ‘new’ life. I am still fighting bouts of PTSD. Time will heal they say, but I know that the pain, the silent scream will never leave me. I, like you, I feel. I cannot simply turn my back and walk away´.

I told her that  I needed someone who tells me she knows how it feels and to tell me I am not alone in the raging tempest.
I dared add: ´Two nights ago I was in bed and I was so sure I could hear children (many) crying. I was awake but could hear them. And I am in the country side. No one close to me. I guess war will never leave us, Z. Some days will be better than others but, in general, no, our wars will follow us. Always´.

´I often hear the crying too. And much more.´ Z. replied.

I woke up thinking about Z., today.
I turn my head West because, physically, she is there,  beyond these mountains. Better: Z. is everywhere.
Even if it´s early morning, I am sure she´s already painting or working on her fruits and vegetables garden. Or writing her next gardening column. Or drawing the lines of her new Peace Project.
Some people cannot stop trying to bring a push forward to our world, even when they carry a heavy heart and hear screams. And much more.

Peace talks, Yemen

My greatest fear is that warmongers will find their way and April 10 will be another moment of shattered hope for peace in ‪#‎Yemen‬.

The quagmire of millions of dollars of kick-backs will silence any conscience, arms deals under the table will prevail and more children will not see a new tomorrow.
These children will pass history almost undocumented. With parents unable to protect them, they will not even be registred upon birth; they will live just a brief time and then, then move on. Because of illness, a bomb, malnutrition or all the three causes together.
The geo-political agenda will win, I am so afraid.
We will not have enough time to save anyone.

(anxiety at 11.25 pm)