Hundreds of young volunteers went to clean up the warf torn area of Al-Hasaba on Saturday. Putrid smells of dead bodies or other severed body parts still lingered in the area where the Yemeni Government and the Hashid tribal confederation engaged in a 13 day war.
“My colleague found a hand of a dead human being among the rubble. It’s disgusting how anyone can live this way,” said one of the volunteers.
The area which witnessed the most intense violence in the capital Sana’a is still unsecured as the truce that was made by a Saudi mediator is expected to be broken. Hundreds of residents were displaced from the area and have come back to find their homes destroyed.
Life in Al-Hasaba has yet to return to normal. To help rebuild the area, young volunteers who organized by the Eyoon initiative, had the idea to initiating the clean-up and rebuilding of the area themselves instead of waiting on the state to take the initiative.
For two weeks, several people warned members of the group not to put their lives at risk by entering the still volatile area. Once the volunteers has finished their days work, heavy gunfire was heard close by the area. Before they took cover, a six year old ran out the rubble to tell them to calm down.
“Don’t be scared,” he said. “This is a normal shooting between the tribesmen and the government. We hear it every day,” added the child.
In every street, armed tribesmen still hold positions behind barricades and sandbags. Chewing qat, they await any return to violence.
When the volunteers started cleaning the streets, residents were amazed and thankful and several joined the volunteers for the clean-up.
“This event taught the residents how to rely on themselves and they liked what we did, they might have thought that it’s impossible to make the neighborhood the way it was and that’s why they didn’t clean it before we do,” said Randa Hussein, one of the volunteers.
“You did what we should have done ourselves, we highly appreciating what you are doing, it would normally cost us one million and half YR to clean this dirt only,” said a Al-Hasaba local council member to the volunteers.
Painting was another part of the campaign that was meant to take place only at one of the schools. To cover the bullet holes and RPG damage to the Al-Rahma school where the fighting began, volunteered painted over the damage.
In the school the volunteers integrated with the military college students who were located at this school to protect and to fight the tribes from. The soldiers who had to prepare for exams showed their respect to what the volunteers where doing in a small debates between the soldiers and the volunteers on why do the soldiers obey orders to fight the tribes in a civilian neighborhood, the soldiers nicely said “All what we know is to obey our leader in it’s our responsibility to protect the governmental buildings” although the volunteers didn’t agree on what he said they didn’t judge him but respect his point of view which is another value that is not found easily in the capital these days.
“I went back to my life with more respect to these soldiers although I don’t agree on what they said, but it was the first time that we get closer to them and see their misery” said a volunteer.