It is devastating to see the place you grew up in being destroyed by war. It is all the more painful when you are powerless to make a change. This is the ugly face of the man-made conflict happening in Yemen.
I was born and raised, educated and employed in Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a, where the beauty of our old city buildings keep us looking to tomorrow with hope. However, the current protracted conflict has ravished the hope of our dreams and replaced them with a living nightmare from which we can’t imagine waking up.
In any developed country, education is considered a precious part of life for children and young people. It shapes people, families, cultures and countries. Yet in Yemen, the very survival of the education system is at risk with the escalating conflict. Families are afraid to send their children to schools and some schools are not functioning anymore as they are either destroyed, occupied by troops or they have become shelters for internally displaced people.
For me, getting a scholarship to pursue a postgraduate degree abroad was a dream come true. I studied for a year at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom as a Chevening Scholar and gained a Master of Arts degree in Health Management, Planning, and Policy. However, it was a very difficult decision to leave my family behind with the on-going conflict. Moreover, leaving Yemen was another burden with Sana’a airport being closed for civilians by the Arab coalition. If I left, would I be able to return?
Hearing news from my family and friends in Yemen is comforting yet distressing, particularly as I am so powerless to help and so far away from them. What’s even worse is when I don’t hear from them due to the intermittent power and internet in Yemen.
Water, food, and electricity are some of the basics that my family are struggling to access on a daily basis. Survival for the day is what occupies most of their time and fear of airstrikes takes the rest. Whilst I am safe from the conflict, my thoughts are constantly with my family and I remain emotionally in fear.
Hope and pride keep me spiritually conscious but for my family, friends and fellow Yemenis back home, daily survival is all that matters. The daily uncertainty of what tomorrow can bring is terrifying; however, the possibilities provided in unlimited dreams gives me and millions of Yemenis hope for our country. We have had enough of this nonsensical fighting.
If peace cannot whisper to our beloved Yemen, we will whisper for hope to bring it back.
Mohammed Gaber is a One Young World Ambassador from Yemen. Since the age of 15, he has been a major health advocate for young people in Yemen, raising awareness on issues such as HIV/AIDS and adolescent reproductive health. He has worked with Lifemaker's Foundation, Y-PEER and Democracy School, and co-founded 'Reaction', an initiative that brought together pharmaceutical companies, schools and medical students in promoting health and hygiene awareness with local school children. He is currently completing his Master's degree in Health Management, Planning and Policy and University of Leeds.