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Reaching for the Sky in Yemen

At just 12, Zuhair, from Sudan, has already faced his share of adversity, braving violence and conflict, displacement across continents and poverty. Still, these challenges have not deterred him from reaching for the stars.

Reaching for the Sky in Yemen
April 17, 2017
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“I dream of becoming a pilot and flying people all over the world,” he says.
 
Forced to leave their home in Darfur, his family fled to Yemen when Zuhair was eight years old. Arriving in Sana’a with only bare essentials, the family had left his educational certificates and supporting documents behind. Without them, Zuhair was unable to enrol in school.
 
As conflict gripped Yemen in 2015, Zuhair’s hopes of returning to school were further dashed. However, his prospects changed when he began taking non-formal classes at a refugee support centre run by UNHCR and the Sustainable Development Foundation. Such classes meant Zuhair could sit for a placement exam, eventually facilitating enrolment in the formal school he now attends.
 
Since 2012, Educate A Child (EAC) and the UNHCR have been supporting refugee education in the country. This partnership is active across 12 countries, aiming to facilitate enrolment and ongoing schooling for more than 700,000 refugee children.
 
“Access to education is crucial for children in situations of conflict and displacement,” says Gwendoline Mensah, UNHCR’s Head of Protection in Yemen. “Not only is it a lifeline for the future, it helps mitigate the effects of distress and can be a fundamental protection against harm and exploitation.”
 
With refugee children facing barriers to education, EAC’s support programmes in Yemen aim to enrol and retain children in school. This includes training teachers and civil society, contributing to child protection and providing necessary equipment and educational materials. “Even amid conflict, EAC support is helping to ensure that refugee children can continue their education. This is a significant investment in countless lives and futures,” Mensah says.
 
For Zuhair, now in class 4, EAC’s support means he also receives essential educational supplies and is back at school. “If I wasn’t in school, I wouldn’t know how to face life,” he says.