A young man in the making in times of war

To see a young boy, no more than seven or eight, crying because of the war, is something we will never get accustomed to.
Qasim Ali Al-Shawea – in the picture – of Your Abilities Yemeni NGOمنظمة قدراتك للتنمية your.abilities.org ) writes:

”Every day I meet a child, family, displaced people during my work with my team and I have a close look at people’s unbearable conditions, how they try to stay safe, alive in such a humanitarian disaster. 
I see children sleeping at night with empty stomachs, after having fought hunger for several days.
I meet many families who have fled their homes to live hopeless, homeless in displacement camps; I am seeing a daily nightmare, a tragedy I have never seen…ever, in my life.
How not to mention the Cholera outbreak which is decimating lives while hospitals are full with patients. 
What is happening in Yemen is really inhuman, illegal and unfair. We are human beings and have human hearts, the world shouldn’t keep ignoring the children and women’s suffering. Every child deserves to live a better life.”

I asked Qasim why was the young boy shedding so helplessly and he replied:
He told me that he and his family used to have a better life.  That was before bombs fell on their home. He was crying because his brother was killed there, at home, under a missile. Now they are living in a tent in a displacement camp. They have nothing to eat, monsoon rains enter the only abode they have. He wants clothes… he really asked me a lot: new clothes, toys, a chance to study. He is a clever child. I felt so sad for him and their life, the hard conditions they must cope with. Heartbreaking, really.”

The picture of a child, dressed like a man in the making, with a jacket which most likely will be worn until it fades to a shadow of a garment, crying helplessly cannot be the emblem of childhood. Not in 2017.
Yemen has been under air strikes, blocked by a siege, crippled by cholera and famine for over eight hundred and sixty days. A number so heavy it seems too long even to write. Impossibly long for a child whose home and past have been buried under a missile.

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The impossible task of being the parent of a sick child in war-torn Yemen

A telephone chat with a friend, in Sanaa, turnt into this: a cry for help.
I asked my friend to ink down our conversation which I share hoping the world will not look away. Not another time, not this time; because we know we cannot stop wars, we understood too well we cannot lift embargoes, go and feed the starving or individually block inconsiderate arms sales to choleric nations. But we can help.
Here is what my friend had to say:

‘My name is Qasim Alshawea. I am a Yemeni citizen living in our Capital, Sanaa. Our city has faced – along with Saada on the border with Saudi Arabia – most of the aerial attacks of the Saudi-led campaign.
I am a volunteer with Your Ability Organization, one of many local NGOs founded and based in the Capital.
Our NGO receives limited support both locally and internationally, yet, Your Ability NGO has carried out several relief operations in different areas of Yemen and organized a number of training seminars and workshops relating to health.

On Thursday Feb 2 2016 I met Mohamed Ahmed, father of two kids affected by cancer. He was looking for help. Mohamed briefed out his story: “I have come from my village in Taiz after people donated  me the transportation fee to  Sana’a´´.

The entire story of Mohamed Ahmed rotates around his children, Gaza and Mohamed:
“My six year old daughter Gaza  has cancer in her tongue. It has been so since she was one. I visited many hospitals and doctors hoping to find a real medicine that would treat my daughter’s – most of the times -fatal condition but till now nothing has happened. Or changed . According to the National Oncology Center’s medical reports by Dr. Nabil Alhakeme in Sanaa “Gaza Mohamed’s soft tissue mass of the tongue shows xerodema pigmentosum with the first signs showing four years ago.’’ 

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One of the last pictures of Gaza – photo via Nabil Al-Wadai

 

The Doctor confirmed the only solution would be an urgent surgical intervention, possibly with tongue transplant, but due to the war and the most complicated situation the country is facing, the doctors could not proceed.

I, hence,  contacted Dr. Karim of Mona Relief Organisation and we worked on the travel’s preparations to bring Gaza out of Yemen. Passport, document, everything was ready. But not Sanaa airport: it was closed due to the Saudis’ blockade on Yemen. No flights allowed out of Yemen.

Gaza remained bedridden suffering the pains of hell until death took her from her parents. Her parents’ pain, though, did not end:  it continues through their second child Mohamed, two years old , with the same cancer of his sister Gaza.

The siege forces Mohamed to wait for his turn after his sister.

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Mohamed has never lost his smile – photo via Nabil Al-Wadai

 

People in Yemen face the worst humanitarian circumstances due to the Saudi-led coalition strangling embargo on Yemen.
It is more than a tragedy  watching thousands families barely having a meal per day (if lucky) and 3.1 milions internally displaced, forced to live in makeshift tents and camps with no water, food, medical aid. Or worse: parents literally picking up the body parts of their kids fallen under airstrikes. Homes, schools, hospitals: nowhere is safe in Yemen as bombs are being dropped everywhere.

My friend proceeds:
Jamal Abdullah is a displaced from Taiz, the city which has been witnessing engulfing fights between the militants supported by KSA and UAE against  the Houthi/Saleh forces.
Jamal told me: “I fled to Sana’a hoping to find a safe place for me and my family. As you can see  here I live with my kids in this tent which someone  from Saada  has given me, opening his land to us,  but my daughter  Al-anood has broken my heart. Al-anood  has leukemia. She is only seven years old , and she needs blood transfusions every two days in Al-Kuwait hospital in Sana’a.”

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Al-anood, the ever smiling girl – photo via Qasim Alshawea

 

Jamal concluded: “I live difficult circumstances due to the Saudi war and siege, and sometimes I and my children remain two days without food in order to earn a little bit of money to buy medicines for Al-anood, to give her courage and fight the cancer”.

My friend ends his message with:
It is a hard task to be a parent in Yemen: you know you are going to lose your child, either because of illness or under the bombs. The country remains closed, abandoned to its destiny.
We are trying to help at least the other two kids and save their lives. If  anyone would like to help please contact us through the NGO’s social media websites:

Your Ability Organization for Development
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Twitter https://twitter.com/YourAbility_org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/your.abilities.or

 

cover photo: Mohamed Ahmed with Gaza and Mohamed – photo via Nabil Al-Wadai