Families in Yemen grateful for “lifeline” of emergency food

Friday, May 3, 2019

Children who have been forced from their homes by the conflict in Yemen receive their daily school lessons on the side of a rocky hill. (Photo: ADRA)

Mohammed Alway and Sarah Yehia Al-Zaom, a married couple living in Yemen, only want to be able to raise their five children in peace. For the time being though, that dream is far away.

Mohammed and Sarah, like many hundreds of thousands of other people in Yemen, continue to suffer the effects of a two-year long war.

“We were living in a safe environment, I was working as a teacher in one of the village’s schools,” says Mohammed, an Arabic teacher.

“As soon as the war started, we were forced to leave our home and to save ourselves from the random air-strikes, we sought refuge in the mountain’s caves.”

They lived in the cave for four months with other families from their village. They pooled all their food together yet could still only manage one meal a day.

“Leaving the caves to collect more supplies was a scary risk to take,” he says. “We were afraid to be caught as collateral damage during an airstrike.”

Eventually though, their food ran out.

“When we returned back home in spite of our fears, we didn’t have food or money to buy food because we hadn’t received our salaries for months.”

The family relied on what neighbours could spare and what family in other parts of the country could send.

“I felt helpless when it came to providing for my family,” adds Mohammed.

A voucher redeemable for flour, beans, sugar, salt and oil delivered through an emergency response project of Foodgrains Bank member ADRA Canada was a lifeline to the family.

“Knowing that one basket was enough food to provide for my family for a whole month was a weight off my shoulder that I cannot describe,” says Mohammed. “I felt a ray of light shine on me for the first time in a long time.”

Children like Mohammed and Sarah’s have suffered disproportionately from the war in Yemen.

“Children did not start the war in Yemen, but they are paying the highest price,” said UN Secretary Antonio Guterres in a February presentation. “Some 360,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, fighting for their lives every day. One credible report puts the number of children under-five who have died of starvation, at more than 80,000.”

Over $400,000 was donated to the Foodgrains Bank to help respond to the need in Yemen. To help us continue responding in Yemen, visit https://donate.foodgrainsbank.ca/yemen.

–Amanda Thorsteinsson, Communications Coordinator