Leaving Yemen

As I’m sure most of you know, there are a lot of problems in Yemen, so I just wanted to share how I left and what exactly is happening over there.

September 2014: the Houthi rebels took over the capital city. It was a peaceful takeover, and everything still seemed the same, even though I live in another city. They slowly begin to take over other cities as well.

February 9th, 2015: I purchase airline tickets to London, England for my vacation, leaving March 19th.

February 11th, 2015: the US embassy is shut down and embassy personnel leave the country because of security concerns. There are still no problems in my city.

February 25th, 2015: I tried to transfer money to my US bank account (like I do every month), but because of the problems, a bank in England that my money goes to before coming to the US is refusing to do business with Yemen, so my money is sent back to me. Obviously, the problems have started affecting everyday life now.

Sometime in February, I learn that the airline my flight is with has stopped all flights going in and out of Yemen. The airline gave me lots of problems, but finally gave me a refund after myself and 3 other coworkers going on the same flight sent a lot of messages and called several times. This begins my new hatred for airlines.

March 9th, 2015: I buy a new ticket with a different airline, which leaves a couple hours before the original flight.

March 18th, 2015: Me and 2 other coworkers begin the journey to the airport in another city, which is about 3 hours away. On the way, there is a roadblock, but they let us through since they thought we were a family (apparently to be a family there has to be a woman in the car.) We hit a lot of unusual traffic, but we get to the house we are staying in before our flight. Our flight was scheduled at 3:20 am, and we planned to leave for the airport around 12:30 am. At about 11:30 pm, the driver shows up and says he has a feeling that something is going to happen, so he wants to take us to the airport now. We assume he just wants to drop us off so he can go back home to sleep.

March 19th, 2015: We arrive to the airport and everything is normal, and we board the flight headed for Istanbul.

March 19th, 2015, approx. 8 am: The Houthi rebels storm the airport we had just left from 5 hours before. There is fighting and some people are even killed. We arrive to Istanbul, and I have a message from another coworker who was scheduled to leave the next day. She explains there was some kind of gun incident at the airport, so she won’t be able to leave.

Typically when there’s been an incident like this, it blows over pretty quickly and everything goes back to normal.

March 26th, 2015: Saudi Arabia begins airstrikes, but unfortunately their aim sucks.

Meanwhile, I’m in England still hoping it’ll blow over quickly and that I’ll still be able to return to Yemen soon. I left England on April 17th to return home, because it became clear this was not an issue that would get resolved quickly.

April 19, 2015: I receive word that the school I worked at has been hit by the airstrikes. The school had been closed already, so as far as I know, no one was hurt. I’ve posted pictures of the colorful Kindergarten section before, but now it looks like this:

IMG_20150421_100508

Thanks, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is still doing airstrikes even though it is mostly just killing civilians. I’ve been in contact with some of my Yemeni friends who are still there, and it is not even safe for them to leave their house. There hasn’t been electricity for over a month, and everyone is running out of food and water. My other coworkers did make it out. Most of them left on a boat to a nearby African country, and some were driven to Saudi Arabia.

This situation has been extremely hard for me to deal with. When I’ve heard about wars before, I thought it was sad but then would forget about it soon after. The war in Yemen has become personal for me, and it’s very difficult to see pictures of ruble and know that it was once a place I loved and used to call home. They can destroy the land, but they can’t destroy the memories I’ve made in Yemen.

On a lighter note, I’m back in the US and have just started a job as a legal secretary at the state’s attorney office. I don’t know anything about the legal system, but I’m starting to learn it pretty quickly. I don’t have any plans to travel abroad anytime soon, but that could change 🙂

In January I went to Greece and Italy, so I plan to write about that trip as well as my trip to England.

Sorry if this was depressing.

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2 comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing!! I’ve been wanting to email you for several weeks but know there are many people asking about your situation, so I didn’t want to overwhelm you. Glad to hear you are safe! Now let’s meet up…haha

  2. I found what you wrote about Yemen informative and interesting , you were very lucky to get out of Yemen in the nick of time , I love your other posts too you must have a passions for writing keep up the good work you have many talents and many thanks

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