Diary of an emergency worker

The devastating conflict in Yemen has left huge numbers of people without clean water and vulnerable to cholera. Oxfam emergency expert Duoi Ampilan explains how every donation you make plays a crucial role in helping communities avoid deadly diseases.

I felt that the world fell in on me – 10 November 2016

My father passed away, and I had to wait six days to go home, because there was no ship or other means to get out of the Aden district faster. I got a message from home: ‘I am sorry uncle, father already died.’ These six days were the longest in my life, grieving for my father. I returned back to Aden after grieving with my family physically and bade farewell to my father.

It is not easy to be in Yemen – 14 January 2017

I did not sleep last night out of fear because of the armed clashes in our district. I saw armed individuals running through the street in front of our compound. In a conflict situation, you think of the worst no matter how you tell yourself that you will survive. These thoughts linger now and then.

106435scrMeet yemen’s young dreamer – 20 February 2017

Noran, 10, has never been to school because his parents can’t afford to pay. He came with his brother to collect an Oxfam hygiene kit containing essentials including soap and a bucket. When I asked him about it, he said, “sickness runs away from clean people”. He says he dreams of a life away from the conflict. For now, we will continue supporting families affected by war – and hope that peace will be reached soon.

Children are the best – 22 March 2017

I visited a school hygiene club today. Children are very good ambassadors; it’s easy for them to adopt and promote healthy behaviour. They like our activities, and present dramas to create behaviour change. Working with children always gives me hope.

A plea from the frontline

The devastating conflict in Yemen has left huge numbers of people without clean water. Almost 200,000 cases of cholera have been reported since 2015. We asked Duoi to explain how every donation you make plays a crucial role in helping communities avoid deadly diseases.

“Ending suffering is the core of humanity.”

As a humanitarian worker, I shouldn’t let what I see affect me. But I am just an ordinary human being with feelings and emotions like anyone else, and the situation in Yemen is terribly bad. The country, it seems to me, has returned to the dark ages, when people were struggling to find water, food or earn a living. As you may have seen in recent media coverage, millions are at risk of starvation. The damage the conflict has caused to infrastructure – including water and sanitation facilities, schools and homes – is overwhelming. People have been suffering since the day war broke out in 2015. My heart bleeds seeing the ruins of war and thinking of Yemeni people dying day by day. My tears

are falling while I write this. But I will never feel hopeless. Whenever we set up a new water system, people celebrate to see water at their doorsteps for the first time. Without water close by, people either buy it at high costs or send women or children far away to collect water using donkeys, while men usually try to find work. Travelling long distances doesn’t only take time, there is also the risk of being caught in crossfire or facing harassment. I take strength from helping people in the most difficult circumstances like this. For me, supporting those who are suffering is the core of humanity – and I know that your donations are an essential part of providing that support.

The lack of clean water is a huge issue here. Water systems have been destroyed and people have fled to places far from clean water.

“When people have no clean water, diarrhoea is common – and can be deadly if you’re malnourished. Cases of cholera are increasing too.”

Duoi Ampilan

Laila Hassan spends around a third of her small income on water, because there is no water source near her home. She has built up debts as a result, and says finding water for her family has been a constant fight for two years. Asked about the future, she simply says: “I hope for a better life for my kids”. I hear painful stories like this every day.  Ahmed No’man used to work as a teacher, but has spent a year living in just one room with his wife and four children. “Water scarcity is a major problem,” he says. “We had a supply network but it broke down. We  continued to suffer until Oxfam fixed the network.” Stories of people desperately seeking water are everywhere – but every time we reach a community with clean water, this situation becomes a little less hopeless.”

Every report from Duoi and Oxfam emergency staff brings harrowing accounts of families facing agonising suffering as conflict devastates Yemen. Cases of cholera – which is caused by dirty drinking water and can be fatal, especially when hunger makes people more vulnerable to illness – are on the rise.

Your money could stop deadly diseases spreading by:

• Repairing broken water systems so families have safe water close by

• Building new water tanks, pipelines, toilets and taps

• Trucking clean water to the most remote communities

• Providing jerry cans, water filters and hygiene training.

£25 could give 25 families clean water to drink for a day.

£40 could buy 10 buckets so families can collect and store water safely.

£85 could buy a kit of soap, buckets, torches and other essentials for 5 families.


You can help: Donate now