Ram Das, Emergency Coordinator at CARE in Yemen, discusses the daily battles and bravery of CARE staff in the face of war.
One year on, and the war in Yemen continues. The majority of Yemenis who have no stake in the war continue to suffer, yet have unwavering hope that things will get better. Some of these brave hearts are within CARE.
Three months into the escalation of the conflict in Yemen, Hana seriously contemplated leaving the country. She was not alone. But the idea of becoming a refugee in another country was not enticing. “We have seen the Syrians suffering – our fate might be the same if we leave our country,” Hana said, who is an Assistant Project Manager with CARE Yemen. Instead, she joined other like-minded youth in Sanaa to organise a cycling campaign for both men and women through youth groups. The purpose was two-fold: to beat the fuel shortage and to give a sense of independence to women.
One morning, Lina, then the Assistant Consortium Manager at CARE, came to the office without sleep because of repeated air-strikes and explosions. “I have to be strong for my mother if not for anything else,” she said.
Bassma who heads the HR department was also feeling the insurmountable stress of the war with her father seriously ill. She desperately wanted to get out of the country for his treatment, but commercial flights in and out of Yemen were suspended. Despite personal challenges, staff wellness was her priority and she organised psychosocial sessions that restored confidence and hope.
CARE’s Emergency Team Leader Essam would go to refuel his car after work and not get home until the next morning. Once you start queuing at the petrol station, there is no escape as hundreds of vehicles join the queue. Meanwhile, Essam’s family would worry as he was out all night while air strikes rained down all night and gun toting militias used force in the queue to fuel their vehicles first. Amid all this, he had the responsibility of implementing CARE’s emergency response.
Bushra, who leads the Northern sub-office, lost two family members in an airstrike in Haradh. Despite hardship and pain, Bushra pressed on. Fifteen family members depended on her as she was the only one earning an income. Bushra continued to show amazing results in her work responding to the crisis.
All CARE Yemen staff have been high performers during the war. CARE can proudly hold its head high in the international community as being one of the primary responders to the crisis in Yemen. Little does the world know that CARE has some of the bravest people on board, who even after 365 days of war, continue to hold their commitment to relieving people’s suffering above their own personal comfort and safety.
The ongoing conflict in Yemen has taken a heavy toll on civilians whereby 6,503 people have been killed and 32,169 people have been injured. It is estimated 21.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, which includes 14.4 million people unable to meet their food needs, 19.4 million lacking clean water and sanitation, and 14.1 million without adequate healthcare.