Faces From Yemen's Revolution
Sabri Ali Omais
Married with two children, Sabri Ali Omais, is one of the volunteer nurses at the field hospital in Change Square. Omais joined the demonstrations right from the beginning, but was also an activist long before the revolution. Originally from Yafaee in the south, Omais joined many protests against the post-unification marginalization of southern Yemenis.
On the Friday of Dignity, just after his midday prayer, Omais saw on television that security forces were heavily attacking Change Square. Feeling compelled to help in some way, he ignored his wife’s anxious concerns for his safety and made his way to the square.
There Omais found tens of the dead and injured and hundreds more suffering heavily from the effects of tear gas. “I felt so angry,” he says, “about what was happening to my people and my homeland and I just needed to do whatever I could to help.”
Today, Omais still feels that same sense of responsibility to do whatever he can for Yemen. To fulfill what he considers to be a duty to the nation, Amees works in a government hospital and still volunteers at the square’s field hospital. He is also part of an emergency medical team that accompanies marches in case of attacks. He says: “Doing these things makes me feel happy and lucky.”
Sabah Hatam says she has suffered a lot in order to provide herself and her children with the basic needs in life. So when she heard that the youths in Change Square had been attacked in March, she left her house to join the revolution.
Hatam is one of the female doctors working at a government hospital. She is married and has three children, aged 15, 12 and 7.
“One Saturday my sister, who also works as a nurse, phoned me and told me that there had been aggression in Change Square against youths,” she said.
So Hatam went to the hospital where she works, gathered her co-workers and went to the square with a huge number of physicians, nurses and pharmacists filling four buses.
“When we arrived at the square the youths gave us a warm welcome and we began treated the wounded people.” But Hatam didn’t know she was pregnant at the time and the air, filled with suffocating gas, made her lose her baby and left her sick at home for a month.
She added that along with one of her co-workers, gathered unneeded medicine her hospital to bring to the field hospital in Change Square. “But when one of the national security officers discovered us, he arrested us and kept us inside one of the hospital rooms for three hours”. He threatened her, saying: “If you get out of here, it will be over my dead body.”
Hatam does not know who helped them but they were released. Initially they were suspended and their salaries seized, but following the involvement of their syndicate this was cut to 50% and now 20% as a punishment because of her humanitarian work.
She has also faced problems in her local neighborhood, where many people are loyal to the Yemeni president. She says that someone has been appointed to watch her; and people put garbage in front of her house, telling some women to talk behind her back, though she never responds. She has even been forced to change her children’s school because of the problems they face from neighbors. Despite her difficult financial situation, so has taken them to study in a private school so they do not miss out on their education.