Faiza Mah: Fear of Death

Faiza is a recipient of the 2018-2019 MALA Scholarship Program.  In accordance with MALA’s mission, this program awards scholarships to individuals demonstrate ambition, integrity, and leadership through the art of storytelling. To learn more about MALA’s Scholarship Opportunities, click here. 

“I won’t leave you alone; hold my hand,” Bushra said in an unsettling tone. I could hear her heart beating so fast as we were running to find a bus that could take us home. At the time, all I could hear were the bullets zipping past my sister and me, not knowing from whom or where the shots came, and people running for their lives. From afar, I could see people on the ground, lying in pools of blood. I saw people running away and gasping for air.

We came near a bridge, and under the bridge, I saw the bodies of hundreds of neighbors. Victims’ blood turned into a river of impurities: blood, tears, and sins. I was in disbelief as I asked myself, “Is this really happening? Why is this happening to me?” What I saw that day changed my life, and it was only the beginning of civil war in Yemen.

Over 16,000 protests took place in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital. Their president was so unhappy, so he responded with violence. There were hundreds of people that got killed in each protest. For a while, people were scared to go out of their homes.

“I won’t leave you alone, hold my hand,” Bushra said, after hearing the first bomb. That day was the last day I saw people laughing and kids playing outside. Everyone was scared that a bullet would go through them and kill them. Most of the schools were closed, but, luckily, my school was next to my house, so I was able to go to school. The school was the only place where I could skip the sour reality. I always had the thought that there was a big chance I wouldn’t see my friends the next day.

Never shall I forget the scene where people were dying in front of my eyes. The blood of people just keeps coming to my memory still today. From time to time, I had nightmares about the scenes that I saw. Sometimes I feel life had been unfair to me, and I ask myself, Why did I have to go through all of that? I was only eleven years old and I already felt that I was not a kid anymore. Kids never worry about death because they’re only kids, but that was different for me. I had to think about death every single day. Every day I pray to God to keep our family safe. I felt I was living in hell, and that I would never be able to escape it.

What I saw that day not only changed my life, but my way of thinking as well. College was never something I thought about in Yemen. In Yemen, college was only for rich people, but even if I had the money I probably still would not have gotten accepted because I was black. Race was more important than money and humanity. People only saw me as a failure who would never get anywhere in life, but coming to the United States gave me the chance to prove them wrong. It gave me the chance to not only dream about college, but to also know that how much money I make, and the color of my skin, won’t stop me from accomplishing my dream of getting my bachelor degree, and more.