Generosity of LaunchGood Community:
A catalyst for Establishing Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation
Background: The Impact of Conflict
Since March 2015, Yemen has been experiencing a brutal war and a siege that has severely restricted the commercial import of food and medicine. In addition, the central bank was moved from Sana’a in August 2016, resulting in nonpayment of salaries to government employees ever since. This has resulted in the largest humanitarian crisis in the world with over 22 of the 29 million people in Yemen in need of aid and 14 million at risk of famine — almost half of the population of Yemen. In September 2018, Save the Children announced that 5 million Yemeni children are at a credible risk of famine. More recently, a devaluation of the Yemeni Rial from 500 YR per $1 to 800YR per $1 in less than two months is debilitating the economy. The situation is also exacerbated by escalation of violence in Hodeida, the lifeline for food and essential goods import to Yemen. Finally, many people in the areas affected by the escalation of war had to flee to safer places in other governorates, resulting in over 2 million internally displaced people.
A Call to Act
Knowing the situation in Yemen, we initially had a close circle of concerned family and friends who donated to our activities supporting the needy in Yemen. Then when the war started in Yemen in 2015, together with the help of our small circle of donors we began providing thousands of families with food baskets. We also gave hundreds of people warm blankets during the winter. We supported local charitable bakeries. We supplied hundreds of school children with school bags and uniforms and hundreds of children with new Eid clothes. During Eid Al-Adha, we also distributed Adhya to over 1000 poor families.
Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation (YRRF)
Because the number of those in need increased sharply, we needed to reach more people. So, on the first day of Ramadan in 2017, we started our first LaunchGood Campaign. We began with a modest goal of raising $6000 and we did not expect to reach that goal. But then, our wildest expectations were shattered. The generosity of the LaunchGood community came through and we raised $67,000! We used all the funds to purchase food baskets for families in need. With that much money coming in, we decided to establish Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation, registering it as a non-profit organization in the State of Washington in August 2017, and as a charitable organization in December. We needed to have accountability of how the funds were being used. We also realized the generosity of the community would enable us to continue our work and serve more people. Since then, we have been blessed; we have been able to raise funds from multiple sources to continue our work. In April of 2018, we distributed food baskets to 818 families, including 200 baskets in hard to reach areas where YRRF was the first to distribute aid. By April 2018, we reached over 9200 families feeding over 55,200 individuals. In 2018, we distributed food baskets to about 600 families per month, except in June 2018 (Ramadan), when we reached 1440 families, feeding over 8,600 people. In many of the places we delivered services, we were the first people to provide aid there because of the difficulty in reaching these areas.
YRRF has contacts in all governorates in Yemen and a savvy Yemeni volunteer staff who help with food distribution. Distribution is based on the word of trusted local volunteers who provide names of the people in greatest need of food aid. Photographs and videos of the distribution are obtained as aid is given to recipients. Through our current LaunchGood campaign, we plan to target 1000 families: those at high risk of hunger and internally-displaced poor families. These include widows, orphans, and elderly people without support. Locations will be selected based on numbers of severe malnutrition cases and Governorates with areas of high need. Families will receive food rations sufficient enough to sustain them for one month to avert hardship. We hope that this act of kindness will also reduce the psychological burden of the family and instill hope in their fellow humans. Food provided would also reduce the risk of malnutrition among young children who are more likely to be infected with potentially fatal diseases.
A sense of Gratitude
Thank you to our donors who inspired us to establish Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation on our behalf and on behalf of the thousands in Yemen who went to bed full and knowing that they have food for the next day. Your generosity secures access to food for those in need. We are also grateful that LaunchGood exists because it provides a platform for those in need to access kind and compassionate people who exemplify those mentioned in the Quran, “They ask thee what they should spend (In charity). Say: Whatever ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good, -Allah knoweth it well.”