Restrained by Conflict, Ta’iz Fights Back — With Love

Love Day Shop in Ta’iz

Love Day Shop in Ta’iz

Ta’iz, known as the cultural capital of Yemen, demonstrates its resilience and ability to adapt under the harshest of conditions. For weeks now, Ta’iz City residents — men, women, and children — have found ways to bring water, food, and medicine into the city. They carry supplies on their backs, on donkeys, and mules, braving mountainous trails into the city.

Inside the city, more fortunate residents share what they have by filling public drinking water tanks and distributing food baskets to those in need. Throughout the crisis, not only have the people of Ta’iz proven resilient in the face of adversity, but also shown a strong commitment to the Ta’iz way of life through community collaboration.

Despite the ongoing Houthi siege leaving residents in dire need of food and medical supplies since April 2015, Ta’iz City’s youth did not allow circumstances to prevent them from celebrating their favorite holiday: Valentine’s Day. Love Day, as it is called in Arabic, has always been a staple among teens, college students, and married couples in cities throughout Yemen, but especially in Ta’iz.

Storefronts on Sunday were full of flowers and red teddy bears, the most traditional gifts on this celebration. The same donkeys who carry food, water, and fuel into the city also brought the romantic gifts. Throughout the day, young men of Ta’iz wore red shirts, women carried red roses, and couples exchanged teddy bears.

We are tough here in Ta’iz City, but we are also romantics. Valentine’s day was the perfect chance for us to face this siege with our strongest weapon: love.
— Male, 35, Activist, Ta’iz