Challenges for Children in Yemen
In the face of Yemen’s conflict, children are the most vulnerable and disproportionately affected. Many have been killed or maimed, recruited into armed forces and groups, and lost family members. With a deteriorating medical system, dying from preventable diseases is an unfortunate reality. Widespread malnutrition is rampant in the nation with over 10.3 million children not having enough to eat. A recent 2020 United Nations report states that there are 10 million children without proper access to water and sanitation, as well as for 7.8 million children without access to education, following school closures. Nearly 2 million of Yemen’s children are out of school as lack of funds to pay teachers’ salaries have led to school shutdowns.
Orphans in Yemen face a triple threat of conflict, hunger, and disease. Displacement, damage to infrastructure all threaten children’s’ ability to thrive in a safe environment with their families. Young boys are at danger of being recruited for child soldiers. It’s estimated that 2,600 have been forced into armed groups. Risks of family separation are increasing as a result of the protract conflict and poverty. Many men and older boys die or are injured when fighting, or they stay behind to preserve houses, lands and livelihoods; while women, children and elderly flee. Attacks on schools lead children to associate educational institutions with trauma and fear rather than thriving and learning. The buildings themselves experience a state of disrepair- they lack inadequate recreational facilities, bathrooms, and basic school supplies. Children exhibit negative coping mechanisms that obstruct their ability to thrive such as screaming, crying, and lashing out at peers and parents. At HRD, we believe children should be in school and not have to worry about not having their basic needs met and simply embrace their childhood.
Humanity for Relief and Development is committed to helping vulnerable children and decided to take action upon witnessing the detrimental impact conflict has on children, particularly orphans. Project Orphans was enacted in 2018-2019, designed to improve the living conditions of one of the oldest orphanage homes in the city of Sana’a, located on 45 street. The orphanage home funding was cut by the government, and living conditions there started to deteriorate as the war kept progressing. When orphans were interviewed by our volunteer staff, they explained the challenges they go through daily including: having no proper area to study, eat, sleep or even play, along with a number of other issues.
We pitched a plan to several other organizations we partner with, deciding to make the orphanage home a better place for the kids, since they spend most of their lives in the building. We renovated the halls, refitted their sleeping areas with new bedding and flooring, renovated the bathroom, the eating area, the playground area and the guard’s area as well. HRD stresses community diversity, which is why orphans from all backgrounds including those with disabilities were given proportional representation.
This project was motivated by a Hadeeth that says that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“The one who cares for an orphan and myself will be together in Paradise like this,” and he held his two fingers together to illustrate this.
June 18, 2020