“I didn’t think about the risks. I just knew I had to do something,” said Muna Luqman, MADRE’s partner and founder of Food4Humanity, as she shared the harrowing story of her mediation between armed groups in the city of Taiz, Yemen.
Muna described how children were trapped in an orphanage in the crossfire between the rebels and the military. They had run out of food and water, and their caretakers desperately called on Muna for help. With MADRE’s partner organization, Food4Humanity, Muna had previously supported the orphanage, so they knew they could count on her.
Muna jumped into action, spending days going backand-forth between the armed groups, who gave little thought to children trapped in the fighting. Determined to find a way to bring these children to safety, she won concessions from the fighters. First, she was allowed to bring the children food and water; next, she secured safe passage to evacuate them to a safer area.
As Muna’s story shows, time and time again, women take the lead to protect communities and secure peace. They know firsthand who is in danger and what they need — and what it will take to achieve lasting peace. That’s why MADRE is proud to partner with women like Muna.
Women Take the Lead
When the Yemeni civil war started, many foreign humanitarian organizations fled, leaving gaping holes in resources and aid for communities. Soon civilians were trapped in Taiz. As Muna described, “People didn’t have water or food. There was bombing from the sky and fighting on the ground.”
As a longstanding community leader, “it was normal and natural for me to step up and take initiative,” Muna told us. She founded the organization Food4Humanity, our partner, to push for peace and meet immediate humanitarian needs.
MADRE became the first international organization to provide Muna’s organization with funding. Thanks to members’ support, we sent food, water and mosquito nets to protect against deadly malaria. And together, we helped Muna and Food4Humanity bring clean water and peace to two struggling communities.
In the remote area of Taiz known as Al-Haymatain, those two communities stood in conflict: the water station both relied on was broken, and the men in each area refused to work together to solve this life-threatening problem. Thankfully, Muna stepped in. With MADRE’s support, she brought together women and youth from the two communities to strategize and rally the support needed to fix the water station. With the guidance of these grassroots activists, community leaders signed a local peace agreement and formed a council to prevent future conflicts.
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