Illustration: Takayo Akiyama / Save the Children
The war has changed everything for me, my family and families across Yemen, and many have left.
My husband used to have a good job, but he lost it when the economy crashed. He has a degree. He speaks good English, but right now he goes out every day trying to find a job that pays. It has been more than two years since public servants, public school teachers and doctors have been paid.
My brother is a dentist, but now he teaches Biology at a high school. We are just glad he found a job at a private school that gives salaries to teachers. My cousin used to have an excellent job as a Finance Officer. The company had to shut down when the war started. Now it has been four years and he is desperate to find any kind of job to look after his wife and two daughters. I worry about him – his face has gone pale and he is just exhausted, worrying every day about how to feed his girls.
People like me, who are lucky enough to still have a job, support their whole extended family. I support my parents, my brother’s family, my grandmother, and my cousin’s family. Although the support I provide them is very basic and is barely enough, it is better than nothing. Everything in the shops is so expensive. I used to buy nappies without thinking about it. Not now. They are a luxury item. Many families use plastic bags or cloths in children’s underwear for their newborn babies, because they cannot afford the price of nappies.
Transport, hospital, schools, nurseries – everything is breaking down.
Over past six months, I’ve taken my son to seven different nurseries. Often, it is overcrowded. He comes home dirty, because there is only one carer for every ten children. I’m looking for a new nursery, but I want it to be close to my work, because when the airstrikes start, I need to be able to run there to get him to a safe place.
A few months ago, we had the chance to leave Yemen. My husband travelled to Malaysia and found a great job. I was planning on joining him. But in the end, I asked him to come back. I’m sure you’re wondering, ‘Why?’
Everyone keeps abandoning Yemen. I can’t. I am the provider for my entire family. I can’t abandon them. I can’t abandon my country. I figured that it will be mentally exhausting for me and I will find no joy living elsewhere, knowing that my country and my family and friends are struggling to survive.
That is why I am still here.
What hurts the most is the feeling that we have been neglected by the outside world. I am grateful to Save the Children and their supporters for not forgetting us. Seeing the work we do in Yemen is a great relief for me.
Sukaina is from Yemen and works for Save the Children in her home country, which has been at war since 2015.