She had dreams of becoming a doctor. Then war erupted in Yemen

Abeer* is a 20-year-old student from Saber in Lahj governorate, Yemen. In her own words, she shares how nearly five years of war has upended her entire existence.

I remember vividly the moment when the war erupted. My family had to move, and everyone went to a different part of the country. We tried as much as possible to check on the lives of one another from time to time. This was the most difficult and unexpected period of my life.

We left our house and everything behind. Due to the war, there was no security, and crimes, such as abduction and assassination, increased significantly. Therefore, I was forced to drop out of school for two years. It breaks my heart because I love education. I always achieved high marks. I only managed to return to school this year. I’m in my last year of high school, but I’m supposed to be a first-year university student.

When we moved to Aden [a port city in southwestern Yemen], our life changed completely. We used to live in a rural area where life was quiet and peaceful. Back home people got along with each other very easily, but in Aden, things seem different.

Coexistence is hard in Aden where internally displaced people come from different areas. The hardship of living in an ongoing conflict has led people to not trust each other, even made people angry. I’m still not able to adapt to this new situation. Even my mother tells me not to trust anybody. “We don’t know them, be careful and stay away from them,” my mother says.

Basic services, like education and healthcare, are collapsing or not available, which has affected me as a student. For example, electricity is intermittent, and this is particularly a problem during exam days, as I am forced to study under the phone flashlight. Yet, when I explain this problem to my teachers, they don’t seem to understand it.

All I think of now is leaving this country for a place where I can pursue my education and find basic services.

In summer, the power is off most of the time. Schools are overcrowded with 75 students in each classroom. It’s difficult to understand the lessons in a situation like that. The teacher cannot focus on every student. As girls, we don’t have activities such as sports or art classes; we just sit in the school yard chatting or doing homework. These circumstances make us look older than we really are.

My younger siblings go to fetch water every day, because my older ones dropped out of school to look for jobs. They tried their best, but during war the more qualified the person is, the less possible it is to find work opportunities. I feel heartbroken when I see how they go to look for a job, and two to three days later they return broke and very disappointed.

Before the war life was easier. I didn’t even think of leaving Yemen. However, all I think of now is leaving this country for a place where I can pursue my education and find basic services. There is no good education, safety, or stability in Yemen.

I had a dream to become a medical doctor like my father, but due to some pressure from my family who can’t afford the cost of this major, I changed my major in high school from the scientific section to literary in order to study English in university and to become a translator.

My new year wish is to finish high school in 2020, achieve a high score, and have safety and happiness as many people around the world. I wish I could walk peacefully on the streets in Yemen instead of finding my mother out looking for me every time I am a little late to be home.

*Name has been changed.

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