It is estimated that nearly 14 million citizens are facing famine in Yemen. This small country positioned in the Middle East has been in the midst of a civil war for almost two years and has been torn apart by war, disease and now famine. In 2018, the United Nations declared this tragedy to be the worst humanitarian crisis in 100 years.

To get a professional view, Rizwan Hatimi recently met with Jamaal Richards at a Yemeni fundraising event called 'Stand up for Yemen.' Mr Richards is a charity worker who works independently to raise funds and awareness of the situation in Yemen. He works alongside a few other organisations whose goal is to provide some relief to the desperate plight of the Yemeni people. He works at the Islamic Education and Research Academy and runs a business called Night Scape Productions. In his spare time, Jamaal campaigns and delivers speeches at different events to inform people about the current famine crisis in Yemen. He has spent time on this project in particular and is extremely well-informed about it.

What inspired you to do what you’re doing today?

Jamaal: My passion for fundraising really rooted from something my mother told me from a young age. She said that ‘we may not be able to help everyone, but everyone is able to help someone.’ This has acted as a huge influence in my life and has motivated me into getting a career in fundraising, spreading awareness as well as charity. There was one occasion, when I was helping some children on school trips and some parents weren’t able to pay the necessary funds. Through other people’s kind donations, the children were able to attend the school trip. To be able to help these children was a rewarding and deeply satisfying experience. Hence, this inspired me to take up fundraising for worthwhile causes.

What is motivating you to continue with your daily campaigning?

Jamaal: There are actually many factors which contribute to motivating me. The first one is that we as humans are not so different from one other. Our fellow humans in Yemen are so similar to us. Therefore, I just can’t stand by and watch these people suffer through no fault of their own. The Yemenis need a huge amount of humanitarian support and I want to be there for them. Secondly, I have my own little term which I like to call ‘positive conditioning.’ This is where I adapt my body positively to the situation I'm in. Likewise, when fundraising, I try to condition my body in a way that would rub off confidently to the audience. Lastly, I do it for the mental reward. The satisfaction you get when you are saving lives is something that undoubtedly inspires me to do this on a daily basis.

What do you think the UK government can do in order to help the current crisis in Yemen?

Jamaal: Thus far, it is upsetting that the UK and American governments haven’t done much to aid the current crisis in Yemen. As far as the UK government is concerned, I would really invite them to talk to the Yemeni political parties and implore them to come to some sort of ceasefire and try to restore some law and order in the country so as to stop the ongoing suffering of the Yemeni people. Half of the country’s 28 million strong population are on the brink of starvation and it is not acceptable for this kind of human catastrophe in the 21st century. We really need to appeal to the government to step up and do something to help; whether that’s to send aid workers across to help deliver aid or provide safe zones for the women and children who are suffering unnecessarily.

What can be / is being done to help protect Yemeni citizens from the current war?

Jamaal: There are some amazing charities that go to the frontlines of war and help children and families get enough resources to survive. For example, the Yahya Foundation, a UK non-profit organisation which was founded with the mission to empower Yemen’s Children. They believe every child deserves a chance and via orphan sponsorships, medical grants or delivering water and food, they will help Yemen in any way they can. Aside from charities, the media needs to publicise the current disaster unravelling right now. If people don’t know what is happening in Yemen they can’t help. By raising awareness globally more people may want to help charities either by donating financially or by giving their time to collect aid.