icon icon icon icon icon icon icon

You can't stop me from working

A woman in a black veil standing in front of gas cylinders.

Faiza with some of the cooking gas canisters

Faiza with some of the cooking gas canisters

As the Yemeni conflict enters its sixth year, more than 24 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian crisis has seen human and economic losses on an unimaginable scale. The war has halted development progress in Yemen, and the cuts in salaries, as well as layoffs and high unemployment, coupled with soaring food prices, have made it impossible for many families to buy basic foodstuffs, especially among poor and displaced families.

Faiza Abdullah is 35 years old and lives in Abyan with her family of ten. Her father passed away when she was 25, leaving her mother as the sole breadwinner of the family. Faiza was in her first year of university when the war broke out, and things became very difficult for her and thousands of young people who were not able to finish their education. Many had homes destroyed or had to flee from violence.

Faiza says: “Our house was destroyed twice. I lived through displacement twice and it was painful and cruel.”

On top of the trauma she experienced through being displaced, Faiza was severely beaten by her brother, to the point that she needed to be taken to hospital. Her mother was unable to stop her brother from beating her.

Faiza needed a new lease of life, so she started to think of opening her own business.

“I was thinking of a restaurant project,” she says. “But I couldn’t find someone to help me with funding, and also as a woman, my family was reluctant to let me work.” So she started working from inside her home selling incense and perfumes, and within a short time, she was able to raise some money.

As a result of the war, cooking gas was no longer widely available on the market. Faiza began by buying seven cooking gas containers and sold them to neighbours, and at the same time, she was determinedly thinking of how to develop an enterprise. Suddenly she had the idea of opening a store selling cooking gas containers, and buying a number of containers and a container distribution vehicle.

In a male-dominated society like Yemen, she struggled to convince her family to let her enrol in CARE’s training programme as she would have to leave the home to study. Eventually, they relented, and she joined a training programme funded by UNFPA which provided her with skills in finance and entrepreneurship as well as life skills.

With CARE’s support, Faiza was able to start her own small business. Now she makes a good income and is able to support her family. Her brother works with her.

When asked about the impact of this project on local community especially women, she says: “There are many families who have dreams to run a project like me, so I hope the project will continue.”

She adds: “Now I feel able to speak up and face all life’s difficulties and obstacles with confidence.”

Back to Top