Ratha & Moubarak: drawing dreams

#foreverychild, hope

Ratha and Moubarak fled Yemen in horrific circumstances. Gathering what belongings they could, they travelled by boat to Djibouti with their families in order to escape the bombs and gunfire surrounding them. Both now live in Markazi refugee camp, in northeast Djibouti.

When Ratha, 11, arrived to the camp her mind was full of the destruction she had seen in Yemen. Expressing herself in drawings, she depicted the homes and schools that had been destroyed around her. She explained, “I was drawing what I saw at home in Yemen — the houses that were destroyed, the people who died. I felt sadness in my heart and I drew what I felt.” Ratha has been receiving psychosocial support through UNICEF and partners. These projects help children come to terms with the harrowing experiences they’ve been through. As well as drawing pictures, the rehabilitation process involves theatre performances, crafting and playing games to encourage the children to express their feelings.

Moubarak, 9, has a similar story. He has been at the camp for 11 months and worries about his friends and family left behind in Yemen. “I drew what I saw in Yemen — my brothers and the people who died.”

“My message for the world is one of peace” — Moubarak

His drawing shows Yemen now and then how he sees Yemen in the future, peaceful and a place to which he can return.

Six months later, Ratha’s pictures have changed from depicting sorrow to projecting hope for a peaceful Yemen. “Sometimes I cannot remember Yemen before the war. I hope one day the country will be rebuilt, even better than before. I want the world to know that Yemen is beautiful”.

“I hope one day the country will be rebuilt, even better than before. I want the world to know that Yemen is beautiful” — Ratha

Ratha believes that people from all backgrounds can live together, no matter religion or ethnicity. She explains that, “Wherever we are from, we can live together. One day I want to study and learn to become a doctor.”

Moubarak also wishes for a peaceful Yemen, “My message for the world is one of peace. I really hope one day I will return.”

Thousands of people have fled across the Gulf of Aden to Djibouti to escape the escalating violence in Yemen. Families and children have been arriving with just a few belongings, most of them making the dangerous journey on small, rickety fishing boats.

Families are living in often insufferable conditions, with temperatures reaching 47 degrees and frequent sand storms, but Unicef is working with partners including UNHCR and the Djiboutian government to meet their needs.