A daily struggle to survive in Yemen

A daily struggle to survive in Yemen

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By Olaa Fatha, CARE Yemen

Noor*, 25, lives in a small village in northwest Yemen. Noor, as millions of people in Yemen, struggles on a daily basis to survive.

 “Growing up was difficult, I come from a very big family and I have 18 siblings. My father used to work very hard as a farmer to earn a living and support all of us. But it was very difficult to raise and feed 18 children. I got married when I was 13 years old and my husband was 10 years older than me. My husband’s name is Ahmed*. He is from a poor family, but he always managed to work and find a better life for himself. He works as a teacher in the village. After we got married I learned that he has experienced depression since he was 10 years old. He is still ill and takes medications. There are nights and days where he cries for hours, his mind is being haunted by dark thoughts and doubts. He tried more than once to commit suicide. Thankfully he didn’t succee," Noor says.

Noor and Ahmed have been married almost 12 years and have six children together — three boys and three girls. Amal*, who is three years old, has brain disease. “It is very frustrating when your child is sick and you can’t do anything to cure them," Noor says.

Daily Struggles

Since the war in Yemen started almost three years ago, life has become more complicated for Noor and her family. Most of Yemen's infrastructure has been destroyed, and many schools have been damaged. Ahmed's school is still intact, but many civil servants like him have not received their salaries for months. Without income her husband was not able to feed the children or buy medicine. “I constantly worry and cry at night. My husband and my daughter need medicine. But we just do not have any money to afford it. My husband cannot control his behavior or actions when he doesn’t take his medicine.”

Almost three years of war have affected the lives of people and caused severe damage to an already dire economic situation. Over 22 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and eight million of them are on the brink of famine. With the recent blockade of commercial goods the prices have increased and people like Noor and Ahmed are not able to afford food, medication and other basic items they need.

 “One year ago I woke up feeling sick and I had a severe diarrhea. My father took me to the hospital where I was diagnosed with cholera. I spent a week in the intensive care room. My husband and my daughter also had cholera. It was a very hard situation for my family. Cholera, no salaries, prices of medication too high to afford. We had to borrow money from our neighbors and relatives to be able to buy the medicine.”

The poverty, lack of a functioning health system and limited access to safe water and hygiene have caused a spread of cholera. More than 96 percent of the governorates in Yemen are affected by cholera. Today the disease is under better control, but it might deteriorate again if blockades and fighting leave people without clean water and proper hygiene facilities.

Regaining hope

“CARE started working in my village when I was in hospital in Hajjah. The community committees selected my husband in CASH for work activities. He helps to repair water pipes and raise awareness about preventing cholera. For his work he receives some money. Now I am able to pay for the cost of transportation to take my daughter to Hajjah hospital and buy medicine for my husband. He is doing so much better again.”

With her small daughter in her arms and tears in her eyes, Noor says, “My daughter Amal now is able to play with her brothers and sisters even. She can’t speak, but she is active and happy.”

*Names have been changed.

After years of fighting, massive destruction of infrastructure has occurred and clean water can be difficult to find. Credit: Thana Faroq/CARE