Yemen – giving a face and name to a crisis

I first met the wonderful Maltese writer, journalist and humanitarian Karl Schembri at the Ubud Writers Festival. We then caught up again at the Byron Bay Festival several years ago.

His poetry and journalism are quite special, but it is his work in various media related posts in the Middle East with organisations such as Oxfam, Save the Children and the Norwegian Refugee Council that particularly inspires me. I recommend you take a look at his website.

Last time we spoke he was living and working in very trying conditions on the Gaza strip providing aid, and trying to communicate what was happening on the ground. Most recently he has returned from a stint in Yemen. The Huffington Post has just published an insightful article by Karl about the forgotten millions of displaced and impoverished civilians in Yemen.

Like me, Karl hopes that by communicating individual stories of real people, we all gain a better understanding of the world around us. I was particularly taken with this conversation he had with his taxi driver Adnan in Yemen about the challenges of getting people to understand.

I tell Adnan one way to go about it is to zoom in on the individual stories, giving a face and a name to this crisis, showing that behind the big figures and high politics, there are innocent individuals with dreams and aspirations like everyone else. The question is then to make linkages to the outside world, the common threads that unite us, despite our cultural differences and contexts.

Adnan and his car
Adnan and his car. Photo by Karl Schembri