"Assisting vulnerable women and children gives me the motivation to improve their lives as much as I can", says Waad, an aid worker from Yemen

Published: Aug 17, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
World Humanitarian day - Waad's story
© Foto: Marwah Saleh

In Yemen, 15.4 million people will need water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support in 2023. The lack of access to safe WASH facilities, services and infrastructure forces vulnerable people to use unprotected and unsafe water sources. Despite a six-month truce, the protracted conflict has left many Yemenis in acute need of assistance. It has also aggravated essential WASH facilities, services and infrastructure, including those at healthcare facilities and schools. The conflict has also significantly damaged the country's economy and social fabric.

The role of humanitarian aid is significant. The situation of women and children is dire. Often aid workers must meet the enormous needs of the people, and many look to humanitarian workers as a lifeline. One of our team's most dedicated and devoted members in Yemen is Waad, Hygiene Promotion and Nutrition Officer.

From civil engineer to aid worker

Before Waad joined the humanitarian sector, she was a civil engineer. Everything changed when conflict erupted in her country. She was an active member of her local community, responding to the needs since 2015, even before formal support from international and national NGOs came.

Since the start of the conflict, she has committed herself and her efforts to forge a career as a humanitarian. "I was supplying clean water, constructing and rehabilitating bathroom facilities, distributing hygiene and dignity kits. In addition, I worked closely with communities to promote handwashing, prevent the spread of diseases, and raise awareness of hygiene issues," she says.

When we, People in Need, started our work in Yemen, Waad joined our team. "As a Hygiene Promotion and Nutrition Officer, I help provide communities with clean and safe water to drink and use in their daily lives and advocate for families to practice good hygiene. This includes distributing soap to families, hygiene kits to schools and vulnerable communities, dignity kits, and many more activities concerning WASH and Nutrition. I am also responsible for coordinating these activities and humanitarian responses with UN agencies and our partners, including local organisations, local authorities, and community leaders," Waad describes her daily work.

Her work also includes providing soap and water treatment products to prevent the outbreak and spread of cholera and other infectious diseases. She also refers critical needs to partners to help facilitate water trucking, repair damaged water systems, and construct emergency toilets, particularly for girls and women.

I want children to have happy homes, lives, and futures

Most children in Yemen are denied a childhood and belong to one of the most vulnerable groups affected by the conflict. They lack access to safe drinking water, which leads to diseases like cholera and diarrhoea. These can affect children's school attendance.

"My desire for Yemeni children is for them to grow up in a clean, safe, and healthy environment. I want every child to have secure and dignified access to clean water and a toilet in or near their homes. I want them to have happy homes, lives, and futures," shares Waad and continues: "We provided clean drinking water to almost 2,000 people and plan to reach even more. However, we need ongoing funding to achieve this objective."

Waad is happy to work for Yemen's most vulnerable, specifically women and girls. "They have been suffering for decades, and seeing smiles on their faces brings me comfort and happiness. Their tales are often tragic, but assisting them motivates me to work to improve their lives as much as I can," says Waad.

After just another day in the field and visiting Mahaw's villages, Waad shares: "The weather was so hot, and the humidity was extreme, there was no clean water. The villages were suffering from open defecation, lack of hygiene tools and diseases, I was concerned about the children there and how they would stay healthy, and I took the initiative to advocate for the Mohamsheen communities' situation and encourage other NGOs to support our interventions in these areas."

According to Waad, within a year in Yemen, with funds from Alliance2015 partner Welthungerhilfe and Czech Development Cooperation, we had already made a big difference. "We give remote communities access to safe water. We began rehabilitating over a dozen new water systems to bring this precious resource closer to homes. I helped distribute over 10,000 bars of soap, conducted several hygiene and handwashing sessions and demonstration for students and families, and spread awareness about the importance of hygiene practices which encourage people to construct their simple cesspit tank," Waad summarises her achievements and adds that her team needs continuous donor support to fulfil the mandate in Yemen and help to provide clean water for every child and avert an even more severe humanitarian disaster.

Autor: Marwah Saleh, People in Need Yemen

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