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Just a boy

12 February 2019

“I struggled to provide for my family...” Akram*, 12 years old, Yemen

When Akram was 12, he fled with his parents, five sisters and two nieces as war broke out around their home town in Yemen.

His father, a former livestock broker, became ill and couldn’t work. Akram left school to beg for food for his family. 

He spoke to Save the Children staff in August last year. 

This is Akram in his own words:

When the war began I was worried and scared of airstrikes, but I got used to them. My main worry these days is if I will continue going to school.

I am Akram. I am 13 years old.

I was studying in the third primary grade when the war broke out in our district. We fled our house.
The priority for us was to survive and we did not think of furniture and belongings, so we left many things including my clothes, my bike and my football. I was very sad to leave our house, my friends, and my school.

 I had to be the breadwinner in the family.

When we arrived in our new town, our life was completely changed. My father fell ill, he got disabled due to blood clots in his legs. As a result, he couldn’t work so l resorted to begging in the Qat market so that I could buy lunch for my family. I am the only son, so l had to be the breadwinner.

I had never begged before; I remember the first day was difficult for me, but I overcame all difficulties to help my family. 

One day, when I was coming from the market, a guy on a motorbike chased me and he was asking me to come with him. I ran and shouted for help… he ran away. I don’t know what he wanted to do with me.

I was very sad when I stopped studying.

I hope to complete my studies and I dream of having an iPad and a bike. I feel sad when I think of my friends. If I am made the president, I will stop the war and will pay salaries for public servants.

If the war targets the city, I will lose another school year and I will not realise my dream.

Our house was destroyed. I do not think we will return to our house soon. I hope we can return one day.

I am happy that I stopped begging and resumed my studies. I can enjoy drawing and playing in the afternoon. My favourite subject is English; I can now say "Hello, Good morning, teacher and how are you?

One day as I was begging in the market, staff from Save the Children approached me and they said I was too young to be begging in the market. They took my details and two days later, Save the Children staff came to our house and provided us with a barrel of water, mattresses, pillows, flour, cooking oil and sugar. 

After realising that my family now had some food, I decided to stop going to the market and resumed my studies. 

My sister also joined the Save the Children Friendly Space as a volunteer and I also go there to enjoy my hobby, which is drawing. I have been playing there for six months now and I like it so much.

Akram was able to go back to school and he now enjoys reading, encouraging his nieces to learn to spell.

How else are we helping children like Akram in Yemen?

The generosity of our supporters has enabled Save the Children to distribute food baskets to children and their families and to children who have been separated from their families throughout Yemen.  Over a million people, including over 575,000 children have received food support since the current conflict broke out.

We’re also providing Child Friendly Spaces, where more than 130,000 children affected by the conflict can access structured learning, play and psychological support. 

Our teams provide health and nutrition support, including in remote areas where even the most basic healthcare services are not available. 19 Hospitals and 3 mobile health teams are delivering urgently needed health care and nutritional support across the country.

Without the support of the Australian public, many more children like Akram would be fighting every day just to keep themselves and their families alive. It remains critical that  we continue to hold governments and decision makers to account and don’t turn our backs on one of the most reprehensible humanitarian crises of our time.

Images: Ali Ashwal/Save the Children
*Name has been changed to protect identity

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