All that we have is our soul

Last week I went to Jeddah for my sister’s ‘Agd, the signing of the wedding contract. while it was extremely difficult to leave Yemen behind, I really wanted to be with her on this important day.

I was supposed to return to Yemen on Thursday but my plane was delayed, then the airport closed. I kept having problems returning to Yemen and at the same time my family was begging me to stay in Saudi. Some said that the flight delays are probably a sign that I shouldn’t return. My parents begged me not to return and said I should think of them and how worried they are.
While I hate making my family worry, I also can’t imagine leaving Yemen at this time, so I decided to return no matter what. Upon hearing this, one of my uncles said «you are a hero, you have the choice to leave Yemen and yet you are returning», but that’s exactly why I feel it is my obligation to return, precisely because I have the liberty of leaving, i should stay.
I am no hero. I have many things that serve as “protection” for me. One is that I am a woman, and while there have been attacks on women, it is less common then men. Second, I am a dual national, which makes Yemeni security think twice before detaining me (it’s really unfortunate that a foreign passport provides more protection in your own homeland). Third, i have many contacts with the international community.
So, with all these things on my side, I feel that what I’m doing is just my obligation and duty since I have more space to do it. It’s the least I should be doing. It’s true I quit my job to be fully engaged in the movement. It’s true I have no social life anymore, it’s true that I face some threats that every activist faces, it’s true I’m mentally and physically exhausted, it’s true i chose the hardships of Sana’a over the stability of other countries, but this is what almost everyone in the movement is doing, and my sacrifices are very minimal compared to others. Real heroes are those who are sacrificing everything for the revolution even if they have no alternative.

Mohammed a 20 year old man joined the protests from the beginning. He believed in change and wanted to see a civil country. He had many hopes and dreams. Four days before his birthday he was killed by a sniper for participating in a peaceful march to call for change. Mohammed gave the ultimate sacrifice for Yemen, he gave his life.

Ali, a 40 year-old man, was fired from his job for joining the movement and not coming to work. He has four children and his wife is a house wife. He has no other source of income. Some may think his actions are irresponsible, but he said “I can’t live in prison anymore, if we don’t do this, my kids will have to live in the same prison I lived in, I am doing this for them. Money will come, but our dignity needs to be regained.”

Abeer, has three jobs: being a full-time mother, a full-time teacher, and organizing seminars at change square. She is exhausted and said while her husband is fully supportive of the movement and of her work, they are engaging in many fights due to her frequent absence from the house.

Hamzah a 24 year old medical student, left his 4th year in medical school in Cairo to join the movement. He has been camping in the university for over three months. He was planning to study and fly back to Cairo to take the final exams at the end of the year so he doesn’t lose the entire year. However, he is unable to do that now. Hamzah is unable to leave the square for fear of being detained by security forces. He will now have to repeat the entire 4th year of medical school. For him, joining the movement “is definitely worth it.”
I speak English, I can relate to the West and people in the West can relate to me, that’s why it’s easy to find me and highlight my work. But there are many real heroes who are not seen or recognized. (see my previous post titledHidden Heroes of the Revolution)
We are all doing this because of a sense of obligation and as singer Tracy Chapman put it, “all that we have is our soul” and our soul can’t rest until justice is served.

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