05:00 – Aden, Yemen

Map of Aden, Yemen

In Yemen, Malka has a wake-up call of her own…

Helped by a stranger

Malka Mohammed, 26, reads from her diary of the war in Yemen. (IP)

NRC’s Education Assistant in Aden, Malka Mohammed (26), remembers March 2015 as a time that turned from being a joyful month of celebrations and weddings into a living nightmare. She was working as an English teacher in her home city of Aden when a colleague ran to her classroom, knocked madly on the door and shouted: “They’re attacking the city!” 

“We evacuated the school. There was a lot of confusion. There was shooting everywhere,” she recounts. Over the next few weeks, it got worse and the fighting drew closer to Malka’s home. 

“Every day, I heard stories of how people had been killed, and I saw the remains of destroyed buildings. It scared me to death. I was particularly afraid during those early morning hours when the airstrikes would begin.”  She remembers one day waking up to the screams of the little girl next door. “I ran out to the street without wearing my abaya or even a scarf on my head. I was running like mad and the street was full of people. It felt like the end of the world, the sky was covered in red lightening.”

Malka and her mother ran as fast as they could. They eventually reached a house at which they felt safe and were welcomed in by the people living there. They stayed until the next morning. 

A stranger helped Malka that day. Now, she is helping others. 

As an Education Assistant in southern Yemen, her job is to make sure children living in conflict can still access school. Through our education work, we rehabilitate and rebuild schools destroyed by shelling and other attacks, we distribute school materials, teach teachers and organise school meals.

Malka Mohammed, 26, from Yemen. (IP)

NRC’s Education Assistant Malka Mohammed, 26, with the students at one of the schools NRC has rebuilt together with UNICEF. (GA)

“We cannot lose education in Yemen. If we lose education, we can lose a whole generation,” she says, and continues: “Education is so important, and that’s why we try to support young Yemenis to create a better life for themselves, and a future.”

Illustration: Ngadi Smart
Photos: Ghida Abdulatef and Ingrid Prestetun, both from NRC.