At an art therapy workshop in the Hadda neighbourhood in Sanaa, Yemen, 12 children are making papier-mache masks. The artwork displayed along the veranda is an interesting mix of happy flowers and sunshine combined with bullets and limbs, symbolic of the children’s experiences during the past six months.
Layelle Shuja’adin, a 13-year-old from the Yemeni city of Ibb, is one of the children at the workshop, and one of just thousands of Yemeni children who have suddenly found themselves alone and orphaned due to the coalition air strikes on their country.
For Shuja’adin, the morning of 20th April is one that will forever be etched in her memory. In seconds, she went from being a member of a close-knit family of four to facing the world alone.
Her father, mother and brother were killed by a bomb dropped during an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition that, since March, has been trying to dislodge the Houthi rebel group from power in Yemen.
At first, Shuja’adin was reticent and withdrawn when asked about her experiences. “I don’t like to talk about this thing,” she said firmly. But then, she recalled windows falling and children screaming.
“Nobody knew what was happening. I was at my friend’s house, in front of my home. I didn’t see anything. Even then, I thought they [my parents] were in the bedroom, and I heard my mother shouting. I understood nothing. Then I went out with my mother’s friend. Everybody left the building.”
Shuja’addin is coming to terms with everyday life without her parents. “Sometimes I say they are dead, no problem, they are in a better place with Allah. At times, I want them badly. When they finish this horrible war, hopefully I can go back to study in higher secondary school.”
It is not uncommon to see children standing on the highway between Aden and Sanaa. When asked for their parents, they either smile or say they have none. At different checkpoints, children can be seen selling bottled water, flowers, fruit, or qat – a mild narcotic – to eke out a daily living and survive.
- Pray for Yemen, an embattled and struggling nation in the midst of a brutal power struggle.
- Pray for Yemen’s children, many too young to understand the situation, left orphaned and all too often alone. Pray that they will find good people to care for them, for protection from abuse and human trafficking, and for a future and a hope for these precious children.
- Pray for peace in Yemen, for an end to violence and bombing, and for aid to get through to those who desperately need it.
- Pray that many in Yemen, young and old, will encounter Jesus and come to find life, hope and healing through His love and grace.
Matthew 19 vs 14: “but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’”