By Brad Blankenship -2016-02-15
The Silent War in Yemen rages while many try to shed light on the situation.
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has been devastating for the civilian population by any account. Most recent estimates suggest that up to 80% of the country is in need of crucial humanitarian aid. Personal experiences of the war can be seen all over social media and, if you’re lucky, you may be able to find it in print somewhere, but this is marginal at best. I have had the chance to talk to many in Yemen who believe it is imperative that the world know about their struggles. One example that has touched me is Mr. Ahmed Jahaf who has been using his artistic talent to garner publicity for the ongoing situation. Here is my correspondence with Mr. Jahaf:
Q: So how did you get involved in art?
A: I’ve been a graphic designer for more than 5 years. I started art about a year ago, I made images against the war because I wanted to show the world what’s happening in Yemen. I feel that pictures deliver the message to others faster… I did more than 350 paintings since March until now. Art has become a talent for me because of the war, the fear, and the suffering.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration from in your art and in your activism?
A: I am inspired by children, by their words about the war and the fear in their eyes. So I have a lot of paintings for children in war.
Q: And obviously your personal experience comes in. Do you tend to stay optimistic?
A: Of course, whatever happens I will stay optimistic. Whatever happens I will be smiling for our children; whatever happens I will be looking for peace.
Q: How do you stay positive with all of this going on?
A: Because I have a son and I must stay positive. Peace must be in the end of any war. I lost 26 people from my family, lost my job, I had to send my family outside of Yemen 9 months ago… But I still look for peace. Also because it is too much pain [to be negative]. I can’t think about the future of my son if I’m not positive
Q: What are you trying to tell the world in your art?
A: 1) Why is the world watching us in silence? 2) The silence must be broken. 3) We deserve life. 4) The richest countries in the world are killing the poorest country.
The message of Mr. Jahaf is a message of peace and hope. It is one that I believe the majority of Yemenis wish to share with the world- not one of hate or contempt. As the war ravages and the bombs continue to drop, the people continue to be held hostage retaining their experiences with no way of telling the world.
You can follow him on twitter @A7medJa7af