Sewing Offers Self-Sufficiency for Yemeni Women
The Yemen Association of Landmine Survivors (YALS) was established in 2004 as an economic reintegration component of the national victim assistance program. Since its establishment, YALS has helped to guide many landmine survivors back to being happy, healthy, and productive members of society. In collaboration with YALS and private donors, the Marshall Legacy Institute (MLI) supports survivors by providing them with medical care, including prostheses and physical therapy, and vocational training so they can find jobs to support themselves and their families. Since 2014, over 100 survivors have completed vocational training classes in computer skills, carpentry, and sewing. Women who complete the vocational training course in sewing have been able to sell their clothing and other products in Yemeni markets and at MLI’s annual Clearing the Path Gala, providing them with much needed income. Contributing financially to their families has made a significant difference in the lives of these women and their families.
Below, we feature several survivors who have overcome odds to return to society and follow their dreams.
Du’a Ramzy Yahya Abdo
Du’a is a 22 year old woman who lives with her parents and four sisters. When she was 19 years old, she was walking to her uncle’s house alone when she suddenly felt an explosion and fell unconscious. She did not know that the road that she was taking had been littered with mines.
When she woke up, she was surrounded by her family and did not realize at first that she had lost her leg after stepping on a landmine. When she discovered her plight, she was thankful that she still had her life, “…but I was sad for my injury,” she noted, “which would make my dreams difficult, especially in the bad circumstances of the country.” Du’a’s dream was to become a doctor and treat patients in her village, however her injury created a setback that she did not think she could overcome.
When Du’a found out that MLI and YALS were providing vocational training in sewing, she jumped at the opportunity. “This made me feel happy because I knew I could help my family by providing money to help me study at the university and achieve my dream of becoming a doctor,” she exclaimed.
Maha’a Sulatan Mahob Abas
Maha’a is a young 29 year old woman who lives with her parents, five brothers, and four sisters. Her life changed when she was 27 years old. She was visiting her grandmother in a neighboring village with her parents when she stepped on a mine and was rushed to a hospital. There, her right leg was amputated.
Since then, she has led a difficult life because of her handicap and the death of her husband. “When I got out of the surgery and saw myself without a leg, I felt hopeless and sad because I am now disabled,” she said, “and I will not lead a normal life.”
When Maha’a learned that MLI and YALS would help train her in sewing, hope returned. She felt as though she was given another opportunity to change her life for the better and improve her economic situation. Her dream is to have her own small business, which will enable her to rely on herself and to support her parents who are growing older. With her newfound skills, Maha’a feels as though she has hope for the future.