A Humanitarian from Yemen: Love without borders

I woke up at the middle of the night to the sounds of thunder; at least that’s what I thought it was at first, little did I know that it was the sound of air strikes.

The war in Yemen

The war in Yemen began on the 26th of March 2015, and is on-going four years later. In a blink of an eye so much has changed. I still remember exactly how I spent that one last peaceful day on the 25th, right before the war started. Strange how I can remember that one last day of peace and safety in Yemen when I truly struggle to remember what I have done on most days.

Prior to the war

Prior to the war in 2015, Yemen was ranked one of the poorest countries in the world. Now it is considered to be one of the worst humanitarian crisis’ in the world. Even though we were a poor country, I would do anything to go back to those times in preference to how the country is now. 

It is tragic that Yemeni’s still lack the access to basic human needs such as water, electricity and gas. Imagine living on solar power where you are only able to have minimum access to electricity every day – that is if you’re lucky! According to the UN, Yemen is still considered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with up to 80% of it’s population needing humanitarian assistance. 

In September 2016 I arrived in the UK as a Chevening scholar to pursue my Masters. I enrolled in an MA of Social Entrepreneurship at the University of London. Upon finishing my studies and going back to Yemen, my plan was to implement the skills I have gained as an entrepreneur and create a positive change through a social business.

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Towards the remaining months of my Masters studies, I applied for an internship at the Humanitarian Academy for Development (HAD). When I was searching for internships, HAD’s internships stood out from so many others! HAD offered internships in most, if not all, humanitarian departments and the various opportunities and options it provides grabbed my attention. This includes departments such as: Learning and Development, Research and Development, Talent Development, Business and Development and Marketing. You name it!

After applying for the Graphic design Internship within the Business Development department, I got a call for an interview from the Internship Manager and in no time, I found myself landing a Graphic design internship at HAD. It was a great opportunity for me to brush up my design skills that were obtained through my Bachelor’s degree. I was also lucky with the timing, as HAD was just launching its new brand identity. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to work with the Business Development team and to contribute in establishing the corporate identity for the new HAD branding.

In Birmingham

Six months later, I was in Birmingham, and found myself at HAD working with the Learning and Development team in a full time, permanent role as the L&D Administrator.  The L&D team at HAD has stood out against its competitors in the field.  The team were awarded a Princess Royal training award in 2018 for their Volunteer Leadership Programme – a fitting demonstration of the quality of work delivered.  The L&D team, although few in numbers is high in quality and delivery. We have delivered training to 1,461 professionals from 43 countries in the world and aiming higher! In the L&D department we offer a variety of training. 

The L&D team are looking into ways to implement training in Yemen in the future. At the moment there is a limited number of international organisations that are working on capacity building in Yemen. Our plan is to visit some of the organisations and identify their training needs by applying a training assessment. Although trying to implement training in a conflicted area is a challenge, we are ready to face these challenges and aim to do this in the coming three to four years.

Working within the L&D team inspires me to share my knowledge and skills with the people of my country in the future. Although I am currently living in the UK, I still want to create a change at home, which can be planned in the UK but implemented in Yemen!  In a few years, once I develop my training skills, I aspire to develop and deliver training for professionals in Yemen. Understanding my country’s needs and being a native Arabic speaker will add an advantage to the whole process and eases the training delivery.

Working at HAD opened doors for me, as Yemen is one of the main countries that HAD will focus on in the coming years. I am working at HAD because in the near future I would like to go back and contribute to the development of capacity building in my home country and help bring about positive change at home. 

Written by Reham El-Eryani

Learning and Development Administrator