When your country is at war and you have no medical care or basic necessities, then your only support group is your family.
When Dubai resident I A heard that his teenage nephew Dheya’s left arm was wounded by a stray bullet in Yemen and Dheya’s brother had a growth on his stomach, I A rushed to bring them and their mother to the UAE for medical care.
It took them three days to arrive through Jordan on a trip that used to take hours. The boys’ mother was seven months pregnant.
“In Yemen, we did have very good hospitals but, after the war, if you are lucky to reach a hospital safely then you will probably be operated on without anaesthetic and proper care,” says I A.
His nephews were taken to a clinic in Yemen where medics attended to the wounds of the eldest and dismissed the growth on the nine-year-old’s stomach as nothing.
“They sent them home. The boy couldn’t move his hands and was screaming in pain. I couldn’t leave them there,” says I A, 41, a public relations officer at a Dubai company and one of 12 siblings.
“We pooled all the money we had and brought them here. I immediately took them to the hospital for check-ups.”
The growth turned out to be cancer. The injury also left one of Dheya’s hands in a bad way.
“We managed to get the youngest quickly to hospital to start treatment, and a government hospital has thankfully agreed to continue payment for his treatment after I couldn’t do it.”
I A and his family spent all their savings on air tickets, MRI tests and also on delivery of the baby.
“We are very proud people and hate to ask for help. We’ve always relied on ourselves and supported each other, but now there is nothing we can do.
“I’m happy that the youngest boy is taken care of but I don’t know want to do about my other nephew.”
Dheya requires an immediate nerve transplant otherwise his hand will be paralysed, doctors say.
The cost of operation is Dh156,000.
It has been two months since the family arrived in Dubai and charity representatives were surprised that they waited so long before asking for help.
“We have always had each other and thankfully never needed anyone else,” I A says, “but now it is out of our control, and I have no other option than to ask to please help my nephew because we can’t do it on our own.”
I A said his sister, the mother of the two boys, is frantic, with a newborn baby to nurse, a son undergoing chemotherapy and another maybe losing his hand. She has three other children who are with her husband in Yemen, too.
“It’s hard and we have never complained to anyone before. We have always kept our problems within the family and solved it amongst ourselves but now, with the situation getting harder and my nephew needing urgent surgery which we can’t afford, we are asking for help for the first time,” says I A.
Hisham Al Zahrani, manager of zakat and social services at Dar Al Ber, said it was difficult for most people to ask for help.
“Many will only resort to a charity when they are helpless and cannot support themselves or their families,” he says.
“Our brothers and sisters in Yemen need our support during these hard times.”