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Mahra Youth Unity Association

Mahra Youth Unity Association

Why we need your help

Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East, with historically weak state institutions, fraught by civil war, with disparate groups vying for control of government. Mahra is one of the least developed regions of Yemen and has struggled recently with a deteriorating security situation and renewed recruitment efforts by extremist groups. Much of the population live in small communities with minimal educational opportunities. Even in larger towns where schools exist, education is marred by poor attendance, scarcity of learning materials and a lack of qualified teachers 

The Mahra Youth Unity Association (MYUA) helps to build strong societal relationships and bolster communities in the east at a volatile time (war, militant jihadist extremism, smuggling, militia recruitment, organised crime). Their work is especially strong in engaging youth and women. It helps to create opportunities and alternatives to criminal and extremist activity, and results in stabilization.



They have launched a programme called “Ana wa Nahnou” (Me and Us) in schools around Mahra. The programme is designed to promote stability by encouraging long-term thinking among Mahra’s next generation, both boys and girls. They train existing local teachers to act as ‘facilitators’ to impart the programme’s principals in a fun and interactive way. These include: planning ahead, personal responsibility, community responsibility, linking actions to consequences, defining ambitions and necessary steps to achieve them, empathy, seeing problems from the point of view of a different tribe or community. 

During 2018, they ran the programme successfully in 28 schools for both boys and girls. In September, they ran an intensive training session, using a professional brought from the Ana wa Nahnou ‘mother’ programme in Egypt. 52 Mahri teachers were brought to Oman for the training – around half were new teachers, and half were trained the previous year so that they could compare best practice, offer advice, and receive refresher training. The training was a great success, with teachers enthused about what they might achieve.

The costs of the 10-day training amounted to £23,196.88. The high costs are because of the need to transport the 52 participants from Yemen to Oman (for security reasons), accommodation and conference facilities (they did negotiate hard!), subsistence, and bringing the trainer from Egypt.

They have continued to teach the programme in 28 schools, but are actively pursuing further funding before rolling out into 24 extra schools.

The projected costs of keeping the programme going for one full year in 50 schools with already trained teachers is £22,059. This includes GBP 3,894 for printing £1,500 bespoke programme books. This cost is high because printing supplies are currently prohibitively expensive (partly owing to the Saudi blockade), the nearest printing facilities are in Mukalla which is a 1,000 km round trip, and the Egyptian NGO that originally authored the books requires a royalty fee.




Fishing is a fundamental cornerstone of the (licit) economy in Mahra and supports a huge number of families. During 2018, the MYUA launched practical courses to help Mahri fishermen improve their skills, and therefore their catch and income, to compete with foreign trawlers in their waters. Their logic was also to support Mahra’s vital fishing sector to ensure it remains a viable alternative to smuggling and organised crime, which is rife along Mahra’s 560 km coastline. 

Courses were limited to 20 attendees owing to limited capacity and to the fact that not every fishermen can take a day off to attend a course. However, we expect each attendee to share his knowledge with at least two of his fellow fishermen. Hence the class of 20 reaches 60. Each fisherman supports roughly 10 dependents. Therefore this initiative helps around 660 Mahris.


Three courses were completed during 2018: outboard motor maintenance; and two courses on how to use GPS for locating fish and for safe navigation. A future course is scheduled on how best to make and repair fishing nets. This will be attended by fishermen’s wives (there are no fisherwomen in eastern Yemen.. yet!)


Looking Ahead



There is strong evidence from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq to suggest that greater involvement of women in society helps to safeguard against conflict and extremism. MYAU would like to implement three ideas, pending funding.


To undertake a comprehensive survey of Mahri women to find out their hopes, aspirations and development ideas. This will ensure that future projects are genuinely local, self-generated and popular. It will give a credible and undisputed voice to women and remove any suspicion of western ‘interference’. The results can be fed through to regional and national government bodies, as well as aid organizations. It means that women will be speaking for themselves, rather than relying on male councils of tribal elders or political parties to pursue agendas that theybelieveto be in women’s best interests

 2-Women’s Newspaper

To launch a newspaper specifically by and for local women. The newspaper can be used for women to share ideas, tips, concerns, news and to propagate new projects that will be designed on the basis of the survey results. A group of prospective women editors and writers have already met with the Director of the Mahra Youth Unity Association to discuss a name, logo, timeline and workplan.

 3-Health and the Environment

To start a weekly women’s group that can exercise safely together by walking vigorously (the traditional abaya robes preclude actual jogging!) along Mahra’s vast beaches. This would be coupled with a litter-picking remit, so the women will be armed with plastic sacks to start cleaning up their beautiful environment from the vast quantities of plastic bottles and wrappers that ruin their beaches. Their hope is that this will catch on.


Any help you are able to offer to the Mahra Youth Unity Association would make an invaluable contribution to their vital work. Please pledge whatever you can. Thank you


raised towards 22,000.00 target


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Mar 13, 2021

Wes Leake

Well done on what you are doing.


Apr 01, 2020


(plus 125.00 giftaid)

Nov 28, 2019


(plus 2.50 giftaid)

Nov 28, 2019



Nov 19, 2019


(plus 50.00 giftaid)

May 02, 2019

Gavin Sue K-S

Good luck for the future Elisabeth

(plus 50.00 giftaid)

Dec 24, 2018

Ollie and Emily

Keep up the incredible work

(plus 25.00 giftaid)

Dec 22, 2018

Celine and Ilya


Dec 22, 2018

Andy McAuslan

Fantastic initiative - worth supporting!

(plus 25.00 giftaid)


Total raised so far


Total plus Gift Aid 2,507.50

Direct donations


Raised offline 0.00

Fundraising pages


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