CARE Emergency Communications Officer Holly Frew speaks with Hana, a young woman eager to be an agent of change for Yemen.
“We will not run away and give up on our country. We will survive this war, and help bring change to Yemen.”
After years of political instability and months of continuous airstrikes, one would not expect to hear a statement like this from a Yemeni person, but 26-year-old, Hana is boldly speaking on behalf of youth in Yemen eager to be “agents of change”, in a country seemingly plagued by conflict.
Just this week, Hana was walking to the CARE office in Sanaa when a huge blast only 200 meters away sent her running into a nearby bank building for shelter.
“This is daily life for everyone in Sanaa. Some days it’s calm, and some days it’s not. It’s so unpredictable. Right now, we’re on day four with no electricity. When it does come on, it will only be on for an hour. At night, I will hear planes flying overhead, dropping the missile, then BOOM! The house and windows shake and I open my eyes to make sure I’m still alive. Each morning, I go to work exhausted from lack of sleep, but I must go to work to keep living,” shared Hana.
“People find ways to survive, and many of the young people here are trying to turn a horrific situation into something positive for our country. Fuel shortages have made riding bicycles a transportation alternative, but in Yemen, it’s never been culturally acceptable for women to ride bikes, so I’ve joined a group of women who started a campaign to change that,” said Hana.
“You also see people making art out of windows shattered by the bombs, and youth are also making street art promoting messages of peace.”
Hana is one of those optimistic young Yemenis helping lead the youth to be beacons of positive change. She is the assistant project manager for CARE’s Foundation For Peace project, which is focused on peacebuilding with youth in Yemen. The primary objectives of the project is to train youth and local community leaders on peacebuilding and conflict resolution and to raise the voices of women and young people.
Since the peace project started in 2012, CARE staff have trained 560 women, young people and local leaders throughout Sanaa, Taiz and Aden.
“In these neighborhoods, people may not agree on things politically, but they all have the same basic needs. And in Yemen culture, you share everything. You can’t eat while watching your neighbor go hungry,” said Hana.
“With schools closed because of the war, serving is an outlet for these young people. They have said that even if funding for the program ends, they will continue the work. They want to bring positive change to their neighborhoods.”