By: Theresa N. Redford
It has 2 years since the United States, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom have launched a bombing campaign against the Houthis in Yemen, which has been relentless and terrifying in nature. With 17 million at risk of famine, and news of Yemen’s blood bank on the brink of closing it is imperative to boost the voices and charities of people on the ground in Yemen, doing what they can to help others. Fatik Al-Rodaini (@fatikr) is the founder of MONA Relief Yemen (@monareliefye), a non-profit organization that has been serving the needs of Yemeni people on the ground by providing food and medical aid. The non-profit was named after a charitable donor named Mona who got the organization off the ground.
This interview, I will talk to Fatik about how MONA Relief provides much needed support to people in Yemen; as well as ways those of us outside of Yemen can help to stop this crisis.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Mr. Al-Rodaini. First, I’d like to ask you: exactly how did MONA Relief Org got started?
Mona inspired me to turn my carrier from journalism filed to humanitarian field. So, I told here in October that “I’m gonna name my organization under your name” but she refused that, I insisted to do so.
The lady Mona supported us with almost $12,000.
I’ve been working as a journalist since 1996 in Sana’a, I started tweeting about the impact of [the] Saudi-coalition war on Yemen from the start of the war, on March 26, 2015 as a journalist writing in English; since then I wasn’t think about working on humanitarian relief except when a lady called Mona asked me for the first time to help me personally. I told here that I’m ok but if she wanted to help there is many people in dire need who deserve to be helped.
The lady Mona said “OK I will help those people you told me about”, so I gave her a list of their names and Mona sent to me first small amount in order to help them. She sent almost $900.
That was in May 2015.
Wow, that’s amazing. I’m humbled by her actions, and I’m proud you named the org after her. What are some of the difficulties of running a non-profit in a country that is blockaded and sanctioned? How does MONA work around that?
As a matter in fact, working in a war-zone area is not easy due to risks that people are facing in the country. Despite that we tried from the beginning to put our lives at risk trying to save lives of children not only in the area that I’m living in, but we expanded our work to many remote places such as Saada, Hodeidah, Har Safyan, and Marib provinces.
We carried our work many times at the same time that Saudi led coalition was bombing places that we were working in. We tried as hard as we can to access areas that no one dares to go there. Mona relief entered to Amran province where 10000s of IDPs fled there in May and June 2015 as the UN didn’t reach that province except months after us.
We went to Hodeidah in September 2015 as no one dares to go there or before. During our work we tried to highlight on the problem of IDPs and vulnerable families asking the whole world to help our people in Yemen.
Could you explain what an IDP is?
Internally displaced persons. As I told you we tried our best to help people putting all matters or risks behind our back.
Thank you for telling me that. Also, thank you for risking your life, as it’s clear that you are doing incredible work. Many reporters have been talking about the mass Cholera outbreaks that have been aided by the US and the UK. What can those of us outside of Yemen do to put pressure on institutions to get medicine inside to treat Cholera stricken people?
What people need in Yemen right now from people outside is to put pressure to stop the war and to end Naval and Air Support in Yemen. People in Yemen can return to their normal lives if the war stops. The war in country led to a catastrophe and huge suffering. People can depend on themselves if the war ends.
The country will recover very quickly if the world helps us to put pressure to stop the war. Yemenis are not waiting on the assistance of UK or USA with some medicine to face the cholera outbreak but people need to return to their daily normal life.
I’m calling here on the whole world to put pressure to help Yemenis to get out of this conflict.
People in Yemen have been waiting for a year for their monthly salaries as each side in the country involved in the conflict is ignoring this request. We need to live in peace and we don’t wait the assistance of International NGOs to provide us their little as assistance as we are able to recover quickly if the war stops and the blockade ends.
If you want people outside of Yemen to know something, what would it be? And why?
I need people outside Yemen to feel about the suffering of our children, who are starting losing their ability to live like other children all over the world. Imagine your children living in the situation of ongoing war on their country.
Why is that, because the children in any place in the world are the future of their country. And our children are the dream of our country’s future.
Thank you so much for your time, Mr. Al-Rodani. I have a huge amount of respect for you. It was an honor for you to share your time with me!
It is my pleasure bro and my honor and respect too.
Thank you so much for giving me the chance to talk about Yemen and MONArelief.
This interview was conducted via Twitter, with Fatik Al-Rodaini taking his precious time out of his evening to type out these thorough responses via his phone. While he apologized for taking his time (which I reassured him it was no problem) I feel as if it is those of us living in the United States who owe Mr. al-Rodani an apology, and much more. The United States left, and many of it’s citizens itself, have long considered the endless era of never ending war to simply be so impossible to stop, that we’ve had no choice but to accept U.S. war imperialism as “Business as Usual” so to speak. However, Yemenis fighting to survive every day under bombs and coalitions we fund and lead (whether it be behind the scenes or not) are surviving in spite our our country’s taxpayer-funded evil; and successfully documenting every action made.
It is our sole obligation to not only help the Yemeni people, but anyone who is staring into the bloody blade of U.S. backed wars, coalitions, proxy wars, and regime changes. I chose to interview Fatik Al-Rodaini because of the fact that MONA Relief has had endless impact for those under siege in Yemen right now. As of tonight, a US/UK/Saudi coalition will have bombed a hotel, killing 60 and injuring 13 people, many who are civilians. Now is the time to organize against this coalition, to make a racket outside the very doors of the industries that profit from these deaths, and of course, to donate to MONA Relief.