My Wish List for Yemen

My Wish List for Yemen

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By Hind Abbas, CARE Yemen

CARE Yemen Communications Assistant Hind Abbas remembers better days in Yemen and shares her hopes for the future.

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 communications assistant for almost a year. During this year, I have met wonderful people whose passion and devotion to serve the people of Yemen in the midst of crisis have deeply touched me. I have learned from each and every person I have worked with. Although it was very challenging due to my country's situation, being a part of CARE made me feel that I am serving my people during this difficult time.

The smell of chocolate fudge cake and coffee in the holiday season brings back precious and valuable memories. On New Year's Eve I used to go out with my best friend. We would go to the stationary shop and buy the prettiest notebooks we could find. Then we would go to our favorite coffee shop and order coffees and a warm piece of chocolate fudge cake to share. We would sit for hours, writing a long list of plans and wishes in our pretty new notebooks. With every year and with us getting older our plans, notebooks, wishes and dreams grew bigger.

As wegot older 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 ones who've left their home country. Thousands 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. Seeing the damaged and destroyed buildings and shops breaks my heart into pieces. Sometimes I wish it was all 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 to the country's infrastructure and affected the lives of so many people. People are trying to survive and cope in whatever ways 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. You can see how they don’t want to let go of their futures, their lives. They remain hopeful, joyful and try to find ways to laugh and joke.

Over the past year, the situation has deteriorated. 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 risen 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 kindhearted and generous souls are suffering on a daily basis.

What do people in Yemen wish for in 2018? They wish to 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 for their children to go to school. They wish to walk the streets without being afraid of an airstrike or violence. 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 cities and in the villages people are struggling and they are desperate for peace. I wish I would have a magic wand 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 did not share coffee and chocolate cake with my friend this year. I was not 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.

Hind Abbas, Communication Assitant, CARE International in Yemen Credit: Abdulhakim Al-Ansi/CARE