Read caption "Mouad is a good man," says Ali, who had to flee his home in Nehem when his family's house was bombed. He is greatful for the help he has received from Mouad Abdu (29), who has worked for The Norwegian Refugee Council for six months providing food for people in need in Sana’a. Photo: Alvhild Strømme/NRC

“They are like family to me”

Alvhild Strømme|Published 10. May 2017
Mouad Abdu (29) works for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Sana’a, Yemen, and is responsible for coordinating food assistance to 140,000 people in the city. Those who receive assistance are displaced from their homes elsewhere in the country.

“I am proud to work for NRC, and I consider myself lucky to be able to help people get what they need the most, namely food,” says Mouad. “I am grateful to be part of that assistance”.

Mouad has worked with NRC for one and a half year. His family lives in the rural areas around Taiz, Yemen’s second largest city. Mouad himself lived in Taiz when the war broke out, but he had to flee. The situation in Taiz for the last two years has been unbearable. Whole neighborhoods have demolished. Aid organizations struggle to reach the affected people. Mouad left Taiz and came to Sana’a, where he applied for a job with NRC. 

Provides food for 140,000 people in need

We join Mouad to the Bani Alharit neighborhood where NRC is handing out food vouchers to people displaced by war.

“This is one of the places where help families that really need it,” Mouad says. “They receive a ration to get the family through the coming month.”

Mouad coordinates food distributions in Sana’a. 20,000 families who have been identified as especially in need, get vouchers from NRC in the Yemeni capital every month. The vouchers can be exchanged for flour, cooking oil and beans at some warehouses.

The distribution today is at a school after school hours. Lists with names and numbers are put up on walls. People look for their names, note down their numbers, and line up to receive their voucher. 

Yemenis really need help now, people are desperate. This urgency motivates me in my job.
Mouad Abdu (29), NRC employee in Yemen.

Wants to help people in his hometown

Everybody here knows Mouad. It takes us time to move though the crowd, Mouad greets many on his way. Kids come up and want his attention.

“Mouad is a great man, he has helped us a lot,” says Ali. Ali is from Nehem, a few hours away, but fled when their home was hit by an airstrike. The family now receives food vouchers every month.

Mouad devotes time to talk to those he meets. He asks Ali how his family is, if they are able to get what they need to get by. He asks if there is any news from Nehem, Ali’s home.

The conversation is sincere and open. I ask Mouad how he manages to remember who they all are, as they seem to treat him as an old friend.

“They are like family to me. I know their names, where they come from, and who are related to eachother. It comes natural to me. They are really struggling, and I feel for them,” he says.

“But don’t you get exhausted?,” I wonder.

“No, I don’t. They are truly grateful for the support they get. I meet a lot of people who really need assistance, they have nothing. I could tell you about many different destinies, people are suffering. One family I met had nothing. The food assistance they receive from NRC is the only thing keeping them alive. It touches me to meet parents who really try, but still have nothing to provide for their children. It makes me grateful to be able to give a helping hand,” he says. 

Mouad would love to one day go back to Taiz and help people closer to his hometown. “Yemenis really need help now, people are desperate. This urgency motivates me in my job,” he says. “I wish NRC could reach even more of the people in desperate need.”


Read caption People look for their names on lists set up on walls in the schoolyard, before they queue to receive their food voucher. Photo: Alvhild Strømme/NRC