From The Edge of Hope

Written by Helene Aecherli, Abdo K. Ramadan on Friday, 26 October 2018. Posted in Jemen

A spotlight on Yemen

Far beyond international attention the war in Yemen is entering its fourth year. It's a multi-layered war in which national as well as regional actors are hopelessly entangled, the Saudi military coalition being one of the driving forces. Tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed and a famine of epic dimensions is lingering. The famine is not only due to the lack of food but also of the lack of means to buy food as government employees haven't received any salaries for over two years. That's the layer of economic warfare. So far there is no political will to push for peace negotiations. 
And in the midst of this all there are civilians fighting for survival, hope and dignity. One of them is Abdo Ramadan, father of five, manager of a big company in Sana'a. He goes to work every day, even if there is hardly any work to be done. He and his wife struggle desperately to send their kids to school and to uphold the routines of everyday life. To ease his despair Abdo Ramadan seeks refuge in poetry, its rhythms and rhymes. He wrote two poems to publish here and frames them with pictures of his youngest daughters as for him and his wife they are symbols of hope - and of the future of their country.

Aseel (7) is getting ready to face the day. Photo: Abdo Ramadan



 A smile emerges from the lips of

the flames, but

Under the sunlight there is only

 dark fate.

 Though many doors for entering

There is no out gate.

Starving got bored of being

left standing

Too long with no plate.

My sky got freed of shining stars

People no more tolerate.

In my land, peace is

Buried, blood dominates.

Perhaps God has forgotten

My home pains and terminates.

Life will continue

Hope always comes late.

Survival is our destiny

Struggles vanishing have no date.



These pictures were take from the car on the way to work. They show an endless queue of gas cylinders in the middle of a road in the Yemeni capital Sana'a. 1liter gasoline costs 2 US$. Photos: Abdo Ramadan 



We miss being tired of work.

We are eager to get busy doing things


that carries value into our lives.

Fingerprints, punch in and out,

duty hours, weekly offs, leaves,

policies and rules have become

meaningless terms.

Staff come in regularly and

the violation book is full of dust.

In spite of less value of the income,

the absence of incentives and bonus,

workers insure their attendance,

the only motivation to report for

duty is to have two meals to

lighten the food burden on the

family back home.

No one cares or is interested

to listen or look at Yemenis.


civilisation can't assist in matters

like politics and economy.

No need to feel proud of our past

any more. There are no more visitors

to see our past and grant us the

sense of pride of something related

to our country and nation.


We have fallen into the

globaliszation's complications when

we are still not ready.


When we finally found the loaf and

pencil, corruption fighters started

with stealing that loaf and pencil.

No mercy, no consideration, no



The rabbit is surrounded by the lion,

tiger and wolf, what will be its

escape path?


Here are only the tears on the left


Here is only the empty stomach

singing the hunger poems.

Here is only the infant, crying beacuse of

less food and milk.

Here is only a dark fate, less fortune

and finally - a blocked tunnel.

All we need is a GAP.



 Aseel on her way to school. She is fortunate to still get a piece of bread to get her through the morning. Before the war 1 kg flour cost 80 Yemeni Rial, today it costs 350. 10kg of rice used to cost 3500 Yemeni Rial, ca. 5 US $, nowadays 10 kg cost 10500.



Aseel and her sister Ghaida (10) have great academic and artistic skills. So do their two older sisters. Their brother (2) is still too young to join them to school but is already running around the house like a champion. Photos: Abdo Ramadan



About the Author

Abdo K. Ramadan

Abdo K. Ramadan

Abdo K. Ramadan was one of the very first persons I met when I touched down in Sanaa in the year 2007. Since then he and his family have been part of my life - and vice versa. Abdo revealed his talent for poetry to me one evening when we sat together in the maglis, the big living room of his house in Sanaa. The children had just gone to sleep and he, his wife and I drank tea and discussed the day. Suddenly he got up, left the room and came back with a big bunch of yellow sheets of paper neatly covered with English and Arabic writing. These were the poems he had written for his wife during their time of courtship, he said, but there were also poems about his daily life, his views, his hopes and dreams. The beauty of the lines I had the honour to read, struck me - and I started to ask him to write new ones, as the world is in need of poetry. And thus he goes on writing.