Ayah, a story of pain and hope

An inspiring girl who suffered a lot and became a victim of the conflict in Yemen

17 November 2018

UPDATE - Since 2018, Ayah has been treated for her injuries in the prosthesis centre in Aden. She comes on a regular basis to get measured so that her limb can be adjusted. “They train me in this centre and I play with my friends too. I am in the sixth grade and I love school. I go to school like a normal person who does not suffer from any issue,” she says with a smile.   

Ayah and her twin sister
Ayah and her twin sister at the prosthetic centre in Aden, Yemen on 14 October 2021

Aden, Yemen, 17 November 2018 - Ayah Najib, 11 years old, is a lovely girl full of vitality and energy. Ayah has five brothers, but she loves her twin sister Ayaat even more. Ayah’s parents, Nageeb and Amani, are modest people. Her mother is a housewife and her father repairs televisions in a small shop in front of their home. Ayah's family struggles to live in peace and safety. The unstable situation in the country has changed their lives completely.

"We were sleeping as usual at 12 o'clock at night, and suddenly, a loud explosion shook the house. The sound of the explosion deafened my ears, and I couldn’t hear what was happening around me. I rushed to my children's room and the sight was shocking," Ayah's father says. “My little children were covered with dust and crying with fear and terror. One of my children pointed me to Ayah who I found covered with her blood suffering from serious injuries," he adds.

That day Ayah lost her left leg, and her right foot was also badly injured by several shrapnel. Ayah's father rushed to the nearest hospital to save his beloved daughter. The doctors did their utmost to save the little girl and  Ayah's condition stabilized, but sadly she had already lost her left foot.

Ayah was forced to stay at the hospital for a month and 10 days until her situation improved.

“I used to feel pain every day as I saw her missing foot. My heart ached,” Ayah mother recalls. “Ayah was constantly asking me if she could walk again, that question made me miserable.”

After Ayah left the hospital, her father went to a clinic in Aden where he was told that they were providing children with artificial limbs. "Ayah got the prosthesis but it never suited her. She was always complaining about it because of its roughness."

“At the beginning, Ayah did not accept the idea that she would walk with an artificial limb. She was crying as soon as she was wearing it,” Ayah's mother remembers. The little girl was suffering from this traumatic event. 

"I promised myself that I wouldn’t rest until I saw my little girl smile again," says Ayah’s mother. "Some of our neighbors advised us to go to the prosthesis centre in Aden as they read an announcement that UNICEF was providing prosthetic limbs to affected children.

Ayah is now undergoing intensive physiotherapy sessions at the UNICEF-funded prosthesis centre in Aden. She also receives psychosocial support from social workers, who work with UNICEF in victim assistance, providing prosthesis and physiotherapy services to the children affected by the conflict.

UNICEF Yemen/2018
Ayah during one physiotherapy session at the UNICEF-supported prosthesis centre in Aden.

"Ayah is a very sensitive girl, and with all what she has gone through, she was in need of a special treatment and intensive psychological support to reintegrate her into society and regain her vitality and smile,” Dr. Jawhara said, the social specialist in the centre, says. "Ayah's situation has changed a lot now, she used to be sad and lose her temper easily when dealing with other children at the beginning, but she is now calmer and able to adapt to her new situation."

“To see my daughter's smile again is indescribable and invaluable. I would thank everyone who helped to overcome her plight," says Amani, Ayah’s mother, with tears in her eyes.

“I will never forget that day, it made a scar in my heart but I will never give up and I hope that this war ends in my country so we can finally live in peace," concludes Ayah.

The ongoing conflict in Yemen has caused many injuries -– both physical and mental. UNICEF's provides essential psychosocial support to affected children. During the first phase of UNICEF’s Victim Assistance Project, UNICEF and its partner, the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) provided 100 children, directly or indirectly affected by the conflict, with integrated support, including physical rehabilitation, psychosocial services as well as assistive devices. Children who benefit from this project come from all the governorates across the country to Aden, due to the lack of health services and infrastructure in most of the governorates. UNICEF has now launched the second phase of the project targeting another 120 children.