Mohammed is one of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni youth struggling to find jobs. Besides being the poorest country in the Middle East with the unemployment rate standing at 31 percent, the ongoing conflict has further worsened an already dire economic condition and pushed youth into despair.
A Tough Beginning
"I became hopeless when I didn't find a job. I decided to volunteer in return for about US$ 30 per month only. Despite this meagre amount, I was very happy at the beginning because I was in need of money for my family," said Mohammed.
According to Mohammed, the US$ 30 that he used to receive at the end of each month was not enough to meet the basic needs of his four daughters, wife and visually-impaired father. "I had to borrow money from my friends to cover my needs. I kept looking for a job but I couldn't find any," said Mohammed.
Mohammed was still hopeful that he would find a job at the appropriate time. He was expecting that his situation will get better but unfortunately it got worse. "Year after another, I continued to struggle for the sake of my family. In the midst of that hard situation, the Education Office decided to reduce the monthly payments of volunteer teachers to YER 10,000 instead of YER 15,000 due to the hard and unstable economic situation in the country.
After volunteering for several years, Mohammed decided to quit and start searching for another job. "YER 15,000 wasn't enough to meet the basic needs of my family, let alone a YER 10, 000," Mohammed said.
"After leaving school, I was overwhelmed and confused. Graduates from College have very limited choices and can work only in their own field," said Mohammed, with a tone of sadness in his voice.
But a smile appears on Mohammed's face as he continues, "Amid that situation, a colleague of mine called and told me that the Social Fund for Development (SFD) has a youth-supported program to pay salaries for volunteer teachers at Al-Ghafeqi School."
2,259 youth trained and employed as school teachers as of May 2018 benefiting 200,353 students (49 percent females) in formal, literacy and adult education
"I remained doubtful and didn't believe that volunteer teachers will receive salaries. I went to school and found out that SFD pays US$ 150 per month for each volunteer. I was very happy when I received my first salary. I’m now able to provide a decent living for my family," said Mohammed.
Fear of the future
Mohammed’s living conditions improved since he resumed teaching at the school. He began to pay off his debt.
However, Mohammed and his colleagues are currently concerned because SFD's agreement is only for nine months.
"It's a nightmare to imagine that after the nine months we will have to suffer again due to the lack of salaries," said Mohammed.
The Yemen Emergency Crisis Response Project (YECRP) is funded and suppoerted by the World Bank, and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and the Public Works Project (PWP). The US$ 300 million YECRP aims to revive Yemen’s economy through large cash-for-work projects, support to small businesses, and labor-intensive repairs of socio-economic assets benefiting vulnerable local households and communities across Yemen.