The war in Yemen started almost exactly one year ago. It has caused a humanitarian disaster that is comparable to the one in Syria - only that the war in Syria has been going on for five years. The war in Yemen however hasn't caught widespread international attention, the suffering of the people, the destruction of the social fabric and the infrastructure of the country happen basically off radar.
But - regardless of how devastating the war is: There is life and there are aims. The beautiful baskets filled with fleur du sel from the Yemeni island Socotra are signs of it. They are made by Boshrah and her friends in the village Al Nuzhah. Boshrah is the sister of a dear friend of mine in Sanaa. The salt is distributed by a women's cooperation on Socotra. I sell the baskets and the salt to fund a sewing project in the village Al Nuzhah. The project will help young women to achieve basics skills and to build a future.
When my friend Jamil, a business man in Sana'a whom I have known for many years, showed me the baskets I immediatlely fell in love with them and asked him to send me some dozens of them. And I loved the fleur de sel. I had the idea to sell the baskets with the salt for about 15 Swiss francs each to fund a project that could ease the life of at least some Yemenis at least a little bit. To find out how the money could be invested best I asked Jamil to check with his sister what she thought they needed most in the village Al Nuzhah. She answered that they desperately needed one or two sewing and embroidery machines, textiles and above all the salary for a teacher. This would help young women to achieve skills to support their families and to increase their chances of getting married.
Here is what Jamil wrote to me about life in the village Al Nuzhah:
"It's not easy to describe how life has turned upside down in our village Al Nuzhah since the Saudi War started in Yemen a year ago. Al Nuzhah belongs to the Governorate of Ibb, located about 150 kilometers South of Sana’a. It's the home of my family and of my sister Boshrah.
Words are not enough to explain the sufferings of the families who have experienced airstrikes and bombs on a daily basis, bombs that killed civilians especially in rural areas. The people aren’t well aware of what is happening and they ask: "What`s the problem between the Yemenis and the Saudi`s new leaders? Why do they kill us?"
There is no electricity in the village, there isn't enough water, the rate of foreign currencies like the US Dollar has increased and so have all the prices for the basic things. At the same time there are a lot of people moving to the village; people, who hope it`s safer here than in the cities or people, whose houses have been destroyed by airstrikes.
Apart from that a large majority of young people in our village, who had worked in factories in Sana`a, Taiz and Hodeidah to support their families, find themselves without a job as the factories have been bombed. Thus they were forced to go back to the village, many of them had no other choice than to contact the Houthis to go to war with them to be able to continue supporting their families. Many of those young people got killed.
There is an urgent need of developmental projects that aim at helping people in our village. That's why my sister proposed to you the sewing and embroidery teaching project. It's crucial that also young women get the chance to learn some skills which they could build on. This project is like a dream for many girls in our village because it will help them to get a perspective and the chance of supporting themselves as well as their families today and in the future."