Anwar school in Balad al Taam district, Rayma governorate, is located in an arid, mountainous region. The name of the area, Balad al Taam – meaning land of food – is ironic as the area is in fact the most food insecure in Yemen with extremely high levels of poverty and malnutrition. According to WFP’s recent Comprehensive Food Security Survey, more than half of the area’s population – 53% – is acutely hungry.
There is no nearby health center, pharmacy, or market. The area is home only to a primary school, a mosque, and a dukkan - local shop.
Arwa is in her second year at Anwar school and like many in Yemen, where births are often not recorded, she does not know her exact age. She must walk very far each day to reach school, but she enjoys learning. She dreams of becoming a doctor.
Arwa and her five siblings – three brothers and two sisters – live with their mother. Their father works as a casual laborer abroad in the hopes of being able to send money home. For Arwa and her family, money and food are very limited, and they rely on bread and milk for all meals. “The most important part of my going to school is to receive the support provided by WFP; we need this food for our home.”
Arwa will not receive food in May, due to the limited resources.
Second grade boys at Anwar school (Rayma governorate of Yemen) study outside for lack of classrooms. Hunger and the heat of the pounding sun make it difficult to concentrate.
“We come anyways because we like studying”, said one of the second grade boys sitting outside; “school is important.”
Abdo pulled his daughters out of Anwar school when WFP was no longer able to maintain its regular food support due to dramatic funding shortfalls. His daughters now spend their days collecting water and sitting around. "We want to go to school. I was in second grade when we had to leave. It makes me angry and sad - but we know there is not enough money," said Abdo's 15 year old daughter. "My wish is to be a teacher, but it will be difficult to do since I was unable to complete school. For now I continue to dream only."
"Life is very difficult here. The sun is hot. I have difficulty walking and feel pain all over, " explained Abdo's aging mother. "There is not enough food for the family to eat. There are no medical facilities nearby. Even if there were, with what money would we pay?" She now has to tie her tattered clothes on with rope to keep them from falling off her thin and fragile body. She never had the opportunity to study. "I am ready to go. My life is almost over."
Abdo's family relies on bread as their entire food intake. Abdo had to borrow money to be able to purchase flour. His wife mixes the flour with water from the well and then bakes in a traditional Yemeni wood-fired oven dug into the dirt.
"I have many dreams. For my family to have enough food. To have enough money to buy clothes and shoes for my children. To be able to afford medicine for Abdo's ailing mother. We are close to the coast and my kids have never seen the sea," said Abdo's wife, Saeed Hassan. "As I child I was able to go to school, and I am very sad that my children - my daughters - do not have the same opportunity. One wants a better life for their chlidren, not this."