Since 2014, a civil war involving the government and a religious minority group has ravaged Yemen. With the conflict acting as a proxy war between the two most powerful countries in the Middle East, Iran and Saudi Arabia, the war has been perpetuated into the long-term fighting we see today. The UN estimates more than 24 million people are at risk and require aid, making this the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in history.
I’m Lola Bosa, a co-founder of the Yemen Fund.
Co-Founders Ash Alguneh and Lola Bosa
Ash Alguneh, the other co-founder, has been passionate about the crisis in Yemen for most of his life. Ash and I have been a part of the Model UN club at our school for several years, where we delved into many global crises, including the plight in Yemen. Through discussion and debate, we furthered our knowledge on the topic and eventually conducted our own research.
While in lockdown, Ash and I were compelled to reach out and aid the country. Thus, the Yemen Fund was born. We decided to purchase coffee in bulk from a family in Yemen and dedicate the proceeds from selling this coffee to the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation (YRRF). In doing so, our longer-term goal is to encourage people to think beyond their immediate concerns and aid those in other countries who don’t even have access to clean drinking water or medical care.
The YRRF’s goal is “to prevent humanitarian disaster by promoting broad awareness of grave health and security issues faced by Yemeni families, raising funds to support critical needs and supporting material relief efforts,” “to facilitate a just peace that considers all segments of the Yemeni population,” and “to advocate and facilitate support for Yemen during the reconstruction period.” The money from our coffee project will go towards Covid-19 relief, medicine and medical supplies, income generation, clothing, orphan support, school supplies, water filters, and food baskets in Yemen.
Initially, the task of importing coffee from Yemen was daunting. However, once we shared the seed of this idea with others, the manner of execution became clear. Propelled by the enthusiasm of people in my community, the project gathered momentum. We held weekly meetings with local coffee shops, Pallet and Dalina, who connected us with Ali Hiba Muslot & his sons. After locating a seller, we imported the beans from them, and we arranged for batches to be roasted and sold here in Vancouver. Promptly, word of the project spread throughout our school.
To promote this project, I designed modern labels for the coffee bags and created a website and Instagram account called “Coffee for Yemen” to reach people beyond our school community and throughout Vancouver. One element I particularly enjoyed designing was the labels! I love art. Personally, it was an excellent way to explore my creative side and use Adobe Photoshop.
During the course of the project, many students, parents, and other community members have approached me and stated how they never even heard of the situation in Yemen. Our project has and continues to enlighten individuals about the ongoing humanitarian crisis, which makes me very proud of our organization.
Another initiative we have on the horizon is selling our coffee during Women’s Day: according to Amnesty International, Yemen is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman due to gender stereotypes, archaic attitudes, a discriminatory legal system, economic inequality, and violence. As a feminist, I’m pleased to be aiding girls and women, similar in age to me, who don’t have access to the opportunities I’m fortunate to have.
Through bringing this project from vision to reality, I’ve learned that I cannot let obstacles in my mind prevent me from accomplishing my goals. Furthermore, I’ve realized that solutions present themselves when I share my ideas. Given the extent of the humanitarian crisis, the Yemeni people will need support for years to come; thus, I hope to continue this project by raising awareness among my peers and therefore widening the impact of this charitable project. Even though I’m dedicating most of my time to academic pursuits, I feel compelled to maintain a global outlook and attempt to alleviate some of the dire problems faced by our fellow humans.
If you have the chance, please consider checking out our website or Instagram and purchasing our coffee to aid Yemen. As Canadians, we are fortunate to live in a country where we don’t have to worry about foreign nation’s militaries invading or not being able to access healthcare when we are sick. We are incredibly lucky to have a stable government that provides for us. In our position of privilege, it is our moral obligation to help those in need. The people of Yemen desperately need your help!
Link to our Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/coffeeforyemen/
Link to our Website: https://www.coffeeforyemen.com/