“Hospitals are luxury when you have nothing to feed your children”

“Hospitals are luxury when you have nothing to feed your children”

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Hind Abbas, CARE Yemen

“I sold all the house assets so that I can afford to pay the rent and to feed my children," says 35-year-old Asala. The mother of four children had to leave her home and now lives in Amran in western central. The family fled their village after their house was destroyed by an airstrike. “Two of my children got head injuries. They got treated in the hospital, but they still suffer from a severe headache from time to time. We don’t have money to eat. How can I afford taking them to the hospital?” Asala sometimes heats up cooking oil and massages their heads, hoping to relieve their pain.

Over 76 percent of the population in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance. Around 17 million people do not have enough to eat and almost seven million need urgent assistance to save their lives. 

“Two months ago while I was collecting water from the well, it was around 11 on a sunny morning, I felt dizzy. I thought it was because I had not eaten for more than one day. I continued pulling up the bucket of water from the well. As I was pouring the water into my ten liter bottle I suddenly could not see properly anymore. I stopped feeling my body and I fainted. With the help of my neighbors I was able to reach home. Once I reached home I started vomiting and I had a severe diarrhea. Luckily my brother was visiting us and wanted to take me to the hospital immediately. I refused and I told him that we do not have any money. I felt very ashamed and embarrassed to ask for money. I would rather die among my children in my home than asking people for money. My brother managed to get me to the hospital and I was diagnosed with cholera!” After Asala received her treatment she was supposed to rest at home. “I was so tired and felt very weak from the cholera. But I couldn’t leave my children hungry. I had to get up and look for food and cook for them.”

Yemen is facing an acute and fast spreading cholera outbreak that threatens to worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis in the country. The poverty, lack of a functioning health system and limited access to safe water and hygiene are a threat to effectively controlling the spread of the disease. 812,996 people are suspected to have cholera and more than 2,200 people have already died. Cholera is now almost everywhere in the country: Over 96 percent of the governorates are affected and over 92 percent of the districts are affected by cholera.

In spite of such unspeakable pain and loss people like Asala hope that they patch together the pieces of their lives during this impossible time. CARE supports families like Asala’s with food baskets to help them survive.

More than 63 percent of the people in Yemen do not have enough to eat. 2.2 million children are acutely malnourished as a result.

Asala sometimes works as a volunteer for organizations distributing food and other assistance. Sometimes she gets 500 Yemeni rials ($1.25), sometimes 1000 Yemeni rials ($2.50) per day. “Sometimes we sell some of the food items that we get so that we can pay the rent. We can survive not always eating, but we cannot be homeless," says Asala. “Sometimes we have nothing to eat for two days. Our meal consists only of a piece of bread. I wish I was educated, I wish I had a job to be able to afford a decent life for me and my children.” 

Asala, a 35-year-old mother of four, fled her village with her children after their house was destroyed. CARE / Abdulhakim Al-Ansi