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The Gift of Sight in Yemen

Posted by Amal Alariqi Communication and Information Officer, Yemen

8th Jan 2014

In Yemen, families who have been affected by the humanitarian and economic crisis have been receiving livestock to help them improve their income and rebuild their lives. For Suad, the donation of sheep from Oxfam has not only helped her recover from the crisis but also given her the gift of sight. 

"I lost my sight last year and felt helpless," remembers 70 year old Suad, a sheep farmer from Yemen's western capital Hodeidah. 'I'd always depended on myself, but last year I lost everything. My livestock died, and I had to sell my gold and assets to survive,' recalled Suad.

Like most people in her village, Saud Yahya Ghori became a sheep farmer when she was a young girl. For years she was able to earn a decent living as a shepherd. However, Yemen, one of poorest countries in the world, was hit hard by a combination of droughts and the global economic crisis, which left Saud unable to look after her sheep.

"Droughts hit the region frequently, followed by increases in the price of fuel, and food. But last year was a disaster for all the villagers. There was no rain and the fuel was very expensive so people were unable to pump water to their lands. The pasture dried up as well. We were all suffering,' Suad added.

Suad is one of thousands of ordinary Yemenis who are struggling to put enough food on the table, and do not have the means to cope with disasters.

"When I received sheep from Oxfam, I felt alive again."

In response to the crisis, Oxfam started a project to help people like Suad recover and thrive again.  This support, in the form of technical advice, funding and the gift of livestock is making a real difference to people like Suad. Now they are able to produce their own food, improve their livelihoods and cope with future droughts.

Suad beams. "When I received sheep from Oxfam, I felt alive again.I cannot express that moment. I took care of the sheep even though I was almost blind but that didn't stop me."

With the money Suad made from selling sheep, she was able to seek medical help to save her eyesight.

 "I sold a lamb and with the money I was able to go to the doctor. They diagnosed my blindness as a cataract and told me it could be removed by surgery."

After undergoing surgery, Suad is now able to see again. She smiles: "Now I'm able to take care of my sheep."

Find out more about Oxfam's work in Yemen

For more information about our work in Yemen, see here.

Blog post written by Amal Alariqi

Communication and Information Officer, Yemen

More by Amal Alariqi