Written by AS & GK

Emails from Mohammed

Emails from Mohammed by AS & GK

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E-Mails from Mohammed”

Annette:

Hi, my name is Annette and I work for Grimme Institute in Germany. Under the lead of our partners from the GIZ (German society for international cooperation) my colleague Guido and I work on a project called “Mobile Learning Yemen” where we create a kind of serial stories for Yemenite policemen and security forces which can be used via mobile phone and deal with the topic of conflict solution. At this point we did not know that the people we would meet would end up facing a major political crisis in the course of only a few months.

Mohammed is our GIZ partner in Yemen and responsible for dealing with organisational matters and for the communication with the local authors involved in the writing process.

In February 2015, we all started to organise a storytelling workshop. For us it was not possible to go to Yemen and so we settled on Amman, Jordan.

Everything was planned and organised via e-mail and little by little Mohammed’s mails gave us an impression of what was going on in Yemen.

February 05, 2015

Mohammed:

Dear all,

hope everything goes well in Germany, we are still here in Yemen without President or Government but it seems we are handling it well. Regarding the selection of the authors for our project we are still in the stage of assembling names to choose from, but I think we will have a great group.

Bests Regards,

Mohammed

Annette:

Our colleagues from GIZ looked for a suitable workshop venue, and team Grimme began to prepare the lessons to be held.

February 23, 2015

Mohammed:

Dear all,

I am still receiving CVs of authors, it seems we have an excellent list until now. The situation in Yemen as you know is changeful, and every day we have something new, these days our president just came back to the field and started to run the business from Aden. So, we will continue working on the project as normal. Go ahead and please inform me as soon as possible about the final date and place for our workshop.

Best Regards,

Mohammed

Annette:

Team GIZ found a perfect workshop venue, a bloggers’ enterprise that was used as a co-working space, too and we worked on ideas on how to structure something as new as this audio approach to storytelling was to us.

March 01, 2015

Mohammed:

Dear all,

I am so exited to meet you all and to start the first implementing stage in the project. Please find the attached list of the ten authors. You will notice that we have four ladies

out of the ten, one actor, one police officer, and most of them are Human Rights activists. I would like to have the agenda and the training materials so I can translate it into Arabic and distribute it among the participants. For the travel logistics, I already sent an e-mail to our section here in Sana’a, to ask them about our options, because as you know most of the airlines stopped their flights from and to Yemen.

Thanks & Best Regards,

Mohammed

Annette:

Honestly, it was a bit of a challenge when we learned that most of our participants didn’t speak English. To transmit everything that we were supposed to teach, to pass on everything that is said, shown and asked to interpreters – that scared us.

But we decided to “just go for it”. The participants were all writers and as long as we were able to explain the idea, it all should result in something good. We hoped. Apart from that, everything would be more or less improvised.

And so the workshop began.

Annette:

What can I say? We were so deeply impressed by all our participants. No, indeed most of them spoke very little to no English at all and yes, more or less everything needed to be translated. And it didn’t really help that our audio recording studio consisted of various cushions and pillows piled on a table to mute at least some of the outdoor noises. But our interpreters did a really great job. And our participants were so kind and open-minded and willing to throw themselves right into the writing process that in the end, we produced two audio stories that transported the spirit, the idea, the aim of the entire project perfectly. And then it was good-bye.

March 23, 2015

Mohammed:

Dear all,

I would like to thank you for your efforts during the workshop in Amman and I wish you all the best for the next phases of our project. Attached you will find seven photos of the last day… I hope you like them. Again… thank you so much for everything.

Bests,

Mohammed

Annette:

Everybody had such a good time together, we all learned something new and sometimes, unexpectedly, we had a glimpse at each other’s lives and then we had parted ways. That wasn’t made any easier by the knowledge that during our workshop an attack on the airport of Aden, in the south of Yemen, had been launched. The airport was closed and so we hoped that everybody would have a safe journey home.

March 25, 2015

Mohammed:

Dear all,

thank you for thinking about us.

Unfortunately I got stuck in Sana’a and could not find any flight to my city so far (since the airport is closed). My family, relatives, friends are OK, but I still hate this situation where I’m not with them. Tomorrow I will try again to find a flight to Aden. All of the group are Ok.

Consolation to you in the death of the German passengers plane.

Mohammed

Annette:

Can you believe that? To be in a situation like this and still think of others?

For some days we all thought that the crisis in Yemen would subside quickly and negotiations would begin. The authors were supposed to develop storylines and Mohammed was supposed to collect them. But soon it became clear that whatever went on in Yemen would not be over in just a few days.

April 4, 2015

Mohammed:

Dear all,

In an environment of war and destruction, life must go on. So far I received some proposals from our authors. I am waiting for the other proposals. Until that time please pray for Yemen.

Best Regards,

Mohammed

Annette:

We understood that people in Yemen were actually in great danger. And we realised once more that a war will never be remote – even when it is almost at the other end of the world – when it has a “face” for you. And this war in Yemen suddenly had 15 faces for us.

And then there were long weeks of silence…

May 15, 2015

Mohammed:

Dear all,

I would like to extend my deep thanks and gratitude for your kind feelings, and that you are still thinking about us. After a break in the internet service finally it returned, but not permanently and in weak quality. I take this opportunity to check on you, I hope you are doing well with best health and spirit. I received an invitation to attend the Global Media Forum but unfortunately so far the German embassy is still closed because of the war in Yemen.

I do not know how things will go in the coming days, but I still hope to participate in this conference. Conditions of war these days have become tougher for us… Lack of food and petroleum products and medicines. But we are still steadfast. Some of the authors group have lost family members during the war, some of them have lost their homes, and a lot of us became displaced people, but we are all alive so far. I apologize for this black news. I hope to see you soon.

Thanks for everything,

Mohammed

Annette:

We really hoped that we would be able to meet him at the GMF. And we kept our fingers crossed until the very last minute. But we knew that chances were slim and procedures complicated. So we thought of a way to include him here – in our story about Yemen. We asked him for permission to use his e-mails. And this is what he wrote.

May 29, 2015

Mohammed:

Dear Annette & Guido,

Thanks a lot for sharing that with me, I like the idea so much. I would like to attend the presentation alive in Bonn, but in case I couldn’t because of the horrible circumstances, I will be so glad to be part of your presentation. I think it will be more life to use photos and real name, I’m ok with that, so you have my permission to use my name, my e-mails and my picture if you want. As I learned from you both that people like the real story with real names and faces… So feel comfortable to make it real as much as you can… That will help to deliver the message (my message).

If you need any materials to enhance the presentation please tell me.

I will be so happy to help you, it will give me the feeling that we are still one team. Thanks again for this brilliant idea, which will call the people’s attention for Yemen situation. Your e-mail brings me back to life after a lot of death scenes, people here are starving, and those who haven’t been killed by war, they died because of Malaria. The good news is that people are supporting each other and trying to share the little things they have. We still have the hope to have a new start maybe before Ramadan.

Wish you the best with the presentation, work, and life.

Mohammed