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A survivor determined to pursue his education; The story of Ebrahim who was wounded in Aden in Yemen

UNICEF Yemen/2017/Ahmed
© UNICEF Yemen/2017/Ahmed
Ten-year-old, Ebrahim Salah, outside Iben Sina school, in Altowahi district, Aden.

 By Gawad Ahmed

Aden, 15 October 2017 - After a horrendous experience being displaced and then wounded in the conflict in Yemen, 10 year-old Ebrahim has beaten all odds and is now back in school in grade three.

His story embodies the terrible effects of Yemen’s brutal conflict on children where more than 1,800 have been killed and nearly 3,000 injured. Those who survive have to struggle with the heavy burden of the bitter experiences they have been through.

When the conflict escalated in 2015, one young boy, 10 year-old Ebrahim Salah, along with his family, fled his home in Aden’s Al-Tawahi district. They reached Al Mansora district, finally finding some safety and shelter. Ebrahim recalls those days of horror.

“When the fighting got heavier and closer to our house, we had to leave. The only escape route available was the sea port as all roads were blocked due the fighting and gun firing. My father was sick then, and we were lucky to get a ride in our neighbour’s bus to the sea port,” Ebrahim recalls, adding, “The boat was very crowded with many families and small children huddled in it. The boat ride took about 30 minutes to the other side, but for us it was like an endless journey. As we were approaching land, we could see some of the bombs landing on the dock. One bomb hit a boat close to ours and many, including children, died instantly.”

By the time Ebrahim and his family found a safe area in Al Mansoura district they had been declared as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). For around four months Ebrahim and thousands of other children from his area lived as IDPs, before they were able to return back home. During this period, all of Aden’s children missed school for a whole semester.

Returning home did not end Ebrahim’s sufferings. It was only the beginning. One day, while he was at home doing his homework, a sudden shooting started between two armed groups from the area. “I was terrified. My father had instructed us to keep away from the window” Ebrahim said. But like all curious children he stood at the window watching the shootout. Unfortunately, shrapnel from explosives pierced through Ebrahim’s head. He fell down unconscious. He was quickly rushed to the hospital where the doctors managed to remove two of them. He still has one of them embedded inside his head.

UNICEF Yemen/017/Ahmed
© UNICEF Yemen/2017/Ahmed
Ebrahim Salah (with black bag),with his friends at Iben Sina school, in Altowahi district, Aden.

“On hearing of Ebrahim’s injury, we kept visiting and supporting him,” Rahima Tarbosh, the school headmaster said. “Ebrahim is one of the best students in the school. He has a friendly spirit and his friends and teachers love him. We were all sad to know what had happened to him, but we continued supporting him, and he is now attending school normally,” she adds. “Through the different support we got from UNICEF we were able to reduce the impact of this war not only on Ebrahim but on around 1,297 children who study in this school,” the headmaster informs.

Ebrahim is one among 513,000 school-aged displaced children in Yemen (Yemen HNO 2017) , forced to leave their homes and schools and subjected to horrifying and stressful situations. UNICEF works with the Ministry of Education (MoE) at all levels, including schools and communities, to bring back a sense of normalcy to the affected children’s lives. It assists children in continuing with their education through rehabilitation of schools, provision of Temporary Learning Spaces (TLS) and school capitation grants that enable classes to resume and improve the learning environment. UNICEF also provides teachers’ training for improved psychosocial support to children, and distributes school bags and other educational supplies for vulnerable children.

The writer is an Education Officer with UNICEF-Yemen 



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