Monday, June 6, 2011

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 titled Hidden 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.


Rachel said...

atiaf, we're hoping to interview you for our show on US public radio, please get in contact, we're on twitter @thestorywithdg...

KswifT said...

Asalaamu Alaykum sis

I am not of Yemeni origin, but I feel your pain. No one wants to live under rules who are opressive. It's also very sad that you are valued because of your dual citizenship. We will only gain true freedom us Muslims when we free ourselves from the attachment to other (West) and I don't mean it in conrete, but from idealogical point of view. We have to start believing ourselves and abilities. To make my comment short, I command you for your and those along side you for your courages acts and overall leadership. We need people who think like yourselves to change the Muslims ummah as a whole. Thank you


Ma'ad said...

Your articles are very inspiring, you guys are the face of the revolution. With little/almost none media in Yemen, you guys are bring the peaceful revolution to the world. I have never been more inspired, I'm speechless by what I see and hear from the few but strong journalists/activists in change squares. We owe you a debt that cannot be repaid, but future generations will always remember you for sacrificing your lives for better future for Yemen

WomanfromYemen said...

thanks for your wonderful and encouraging words. The revolutionaries here in Yemen have inspired me so much. They are giving everything they have and dont have for this revolution.

Rachel, i tried to message you on twitter but couldn't.

masrymon said...

from egypt, with much respect

Peggy said...

I lived in Yemen for three years in the '70s and visit there as often as I can. I am following your reports with bated breath! I am also forwarding them to former Peace Corps volunteers in Yemen, who are as concerned as I am! Thank you for what you are doing!

WomanfromYemen said...

masrymon, thank you very much, and Peggy, i'm touched and honored that you are following and distributing the blog. Glad you like it, and hope you can visit Yemen again soon.

lilimarlene1 said...

I reside in the US. The average citizen is becoming a prisoner here, too. Many more luxuries, I know, but we see our government as something far beyond us. We don't want to be deployed all over the world. We want simply to live in our homeland and for others to live well and peacefully in theirs. May God (Allah) guide and protect you.

AW said...

it makes me so happy to hear that their is still so much drive for much needed revolution in this day and age.

i know what it feels like to have to get another passport, just to feel safe in the country that gave you life and your name. though it is a confusing feeling, it almost makes the relationship more passionate. it makes us strive to return, b/c we have the choice to leave and to be apathetic.

you are an amazing person, be safe and may your cause find success.