Prayer Request

Greetings in Jesus’ name!

I am very sad to inform you that the situation in Yemen has been deteriorating very seriously. The Houthi rebels have been in control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa since September 2014. Among twenty one provinces, nine provinces were captured by Houthis. In this situation Yemen’s President Hadi asked for support from regional powers. Saudi Arabia and the coalition of ten other Arab countries have begun air raids and shelling on Houthi positions of control. 1,50,000 troops are ready to launch operations and hundreds of Saudi’s war planes launched air strikes against Houthis in Yemen. Today all airports and sea ports are closed in Yemen.

Today Mansour shared that during this time of war robbery, looting and plundering have been increasing in public and private properties in all parts of Aden. The Presidential palace in Aden was plundered yesterday and all the materials were looted away. In this situation to safeguard our Church, Clinic and our property, we have deployed more security personnel in the campus. On Wednesday morning from 10.00 am local time the Eye Clinic remains closed indefinitely. Moreover, all Education Institutions and Government offices also remain closed now. Fierce fights are going on, not only in the neighboring cities but also in Aden, nearly 2 km away from our Church.

The situation in Yemen forced us to leave Aden and now Vijaya and I are in India. On the last Friday, the worship service could not be conducted in Christ Church. However, so far the Christ Church and the Ras Morbat Eye Clinic are not affected with any serious problems.

The people of Aden are in a state of insecurity and there is no peace due to unjust social order followed by  war. Today I contacted the staff in the clinic, maintenance staff and all the members of the Christ Church over phone and encouraged them to face the difficult situation in God’s name.

Kindly pray for peace and security for all in Yemen and its people particularly the ministry of the Christ Church and the Ras Morbat Clinic and members of the congregation.

I would be very grateful to you, if you could remember us and the Christ Church in your family prayers and as a congregation in tomorrow’s worship service.

Thanking you,

With prayers

Fr. Velvet and Vijaya.

Aden Update

The political problems in Yemen are only now featuring in the international news headlines. It has taken some real effort to track the developments in Yemen over the past three months in English language media, but the increasing unrest has now progressed toward outright civil war. Houthi troups loyal to former President Saleh have swept down from Sanaa and are in the process of taking over Aden. President Hadi’s exact whereabouts are unknown – he is purported to have fled the country but his supporters maintain his is still in control of Aden. As Saudi-led coalition air strike bombards Sanaa the crisis deepens into a proxy war between other Middle East countries who fear each others’ influence.  Coupled with strong sentiment among many in the south that a return to divided Yemen is the solution of their local problems, the present conflict has many layers and complexities.

Until the last couple of days when shooting and looting have become more widespread, the clinic in Aden has continued to operate as normal, seeing 40-50 patients each day. The staff show courage and tenacity enabling the clinic to continue to serve the Yemeni people. There has been no fighting in the area immediately around the clinic. Fr Velvet and Vijaya returned to India for the time being because everyone involved felt that the presence of foreigners on the property increased the risk for everyone. The church community however continue to meet on Fridays when they can travel freely in the city.

There are strikes and demonstrations in Aden. There has been an arial bombardment of the residence where President Hadi was staying but we are told nobody was hurt. There has been armed conflict between government fighters and supporters of the Houthi movement. It is clear that a civil war will be inconclusive and only deepen the confusion, poverty and basic survival factors for the Yemeni people throughout the country. What’s more, it will also give more scope for IS and AQAP to extend their influence among the tribes.

As always, we covet the prayers of our friends and supporters. Please pray for the eventuality of reconciliation and lasting peace. Please remember that there are many Christians in the country from African and subcontinent nationalities who are also caught up in the unrest and insecurity. Pray too for the safety of the staff as they travel to and from work, and for the church community as they have some distance to travel to meet with other believers. We think of them especially as they celebrate Easter.

May God continue to work in and through his people to reflect his righteousness and peace.

Aden Update March 2015

Fr Velvet and Vijaya are currently in India with bookings to return in a month.

With the decision to relocate the President’s office to Aden and reconstitute the recognised government from the presidential office in Aden, a period of confusion and some fighting erupted in the streets of Aden. The government is in the process of consolidating power. Of course, there is a lot of firing in the air as well, which is also very dangerous. There is considerable uncertainty about peace and security in Yemen as a whole and in Aden at the moment. If the government is successful in re-establishing itself, civil security in Aden will return to normal soon and it will be possible for Velvet and Vijaya to return after things settle down.

Mansour continues to watch over the Christ Church compound and clinic. The clinic is functioning more or less normally. Because the area around the clinic is largely military (naval) there is less likelihood of rioting in the immediate vicinity of Christ Church unless civil (and military) authority collapses entirely. There is still a credible threat from Al Qa’eda supporters, and there was an assassination of a high military official recently in Aden. Mansour is advising us of the security situation as it evolves. We covet prayers for Yemen, its people, for peace and security for all, but also for our staff and their families and for the ongoing work of the clinic where people continue to be received and treated as an expression of God’s care for them.

September 2014

Dr Edwin hands out certificates

Dr Edwin hands out certificates

The highlight of the last few months at the Christ Church Clinics has definitely been the Cairo Medical Conference, so ably and well organised by Dr Edwin Martin and supported by Dr Ehab of HOME, Dr Mike Davies and Dr Jon Day of PRIME and others, around the theme of ‘The Long Term Care of Chronic Disease’. This is a large and increasing part of the whole of medical care in the Middle East where good record keeping is fundamentally important. Clinics specifically related to eye care were included in the programme, as this is the main work of the Ras Morbat clinics currently. Lively and interactive teaching was delivered by surgeons and specialists from the UK and Egypt – including Dr Adel a senior consultant from the National Eye institute of Egypt who has operated and taught at the Christ Church Clinic on several occasions.

Attending the conference were not just the doctors from Ras Morbat, but a nurse, two technicians and a pharmacist – the whole team. A number from another medical facility in Aden also attended, and the conference has served to strengthen professional links between those working in the same city. Around 30 Egyptian doctors also attended the conference. Firm friendships and professional links have been made between Yemeni and Egyptian colleagues. The team came back buzzing from the conference and ‘over the moon’, in the words of Peter Crooks, to be able to access postgraduate education. The staff are keen to access further training in the future. As links between Egyptian medical professionals, such as Dr Adel grow, this is becoming a more concrete hope for the future.

The PyramidsBeside teaching sessions, delegates observed a live operation training session in a local hospital, a refugee clinic, a hospital with a new surgical training programme and of course … the pyramids! For many of the staff this was their first visit outside of Yemen and they made the most of it.

The staff commented in feedback that the conference was interesting, useful, motivating, relevant, refreshing, excellent… We are grateful to Dr Edwin for all his hard work in making the conference happen, and to those who generously hosted and funded it.

The conference has again highlighted the need and hunger for postgraduate training and supervision at the clinics. We long for Christian medical professionals to come and work alongside the Yemeni staff who work faithfully to keep the clinics running.

Since the last update a new opthalmic microscope has arrived and is being put to good use. The eye clinic continues to be busy, and with cateract removal operations being performed by the wonderful Doctors Randa and Tahani. Dr John Sandford Smith hopes to visit again later this year to operate further, and the Cairo conference has whetted the appetite of the staff for further training.
Dr Osmany and his wife
Dr Osmany (pictured above with his wife), an eye surgeon from Cuba who works elsewhere in Aden also provides key support to the Ras Morbat staff on a regular basis with the most complex cases.

Qat chewingThe situation in Yemen as a whole remains precarious. Recent fuel hikes have led to protests, especially in the capital. Al Qaeda seem intent on targeting the military. Aden remains relatively calm and we are grateful that daily life continues much as it has been for the staff and community around Christ Church.

Velvet & Vijaya John

Velvet & Vijaya John

The other exciting news from Christ Church is the recent appointment of the Revd T Velvet John as the Chaplain of Christ Church Aden and Director of the Ras Morbat Clinic.

Velvet, originating from the Diocese of South Kerala in the Church of South India, is currently Dean of Certificate, Graduate, and Postgraduate Studies for TAFTEE (The Association for Theological Education by Extension) and also Associate Pastor of St James, Bangalore, and an executive member of the Bangalore Medical Ethics Committee. He is married to the Revd J Vijaya John and they have two adult children.

We, alongside the staff at the clinics and the small, but faithful congregation look forward to his arrival in Yemen in November, prior to a licensing by Bishop Michael in December.

 

 

 

September 2013

Dear Friends,

We’d seen the wedding photos before, but sat captivated once again as they passed before us on the laptop on our kitchen table, where the bride and groom, Michi and Glynis, were seated beside us.  The bride, Nancy’s niece, was stunning and her dress remarkable – the lower part an exquisitely made white sphere, the top, the neatest pale-green bodice, while the groom in long frock coat, lace cuffs and black calf stockings looked both elegant and radiant. The wedding was in the lovely Austrian spa town of Bad Ischl. It was a very beautiful day and Peter conducted the wedding.

Happy Austrian couple

Also watching the wedding photos with us were two very great friends from Yemen; Dr Sameera, who worked in the Christ Church medical clinic some years ago and her lovely daughter, Ghoson, herself newly-engaged to a friend in Yemen and currently over in Britain doing a placement in a dental practice near Bristol.

Dr Sameera enjoying the beach
Ghoson tries her hand at bread making

When we’d seen the wedding photographs, we asked after Ghoson’s brother – a gifted and popular singer, and in his songs, an often articulate and outspoken commentator on Yemen affairs. Ghoson then went online and in moments we were transported from pictures of laughter and beauty to carnage and grief – to pictures of a parade ground in Sanaa (Yemen’s capital) where a few months ago one hundred young servicemen were killed at their graduation ceremony by a suicide bomber. The contrast between what we had just been watching and now saw could not have been greater. Interspersed with pictures of the bloodied parade ground and a few dazed survivors, were clips of Ghoson’s brother singing a passionate lament for those killed, along with a haunting refrain asking what possessed the mind of the youngster who had killed them. It was the turn of the bride and groom – shocked and stunned to ask questions of the pictures now on the screen. They entered as readily into the grief and horror as Ghoson and her mother had moments before entered into their joy.

There was a significant wedding in Aden too a week ago, that of Dr Tahani, one of our two young lady eye surgeons and Ahmed Soufi, eye technician, also at the clinic. We would have loved to have been there though in reality only Nancy would have been allowed to attend. We were told that it was very happy, and today we have news that Peter Welby, who spent time with us in Aden as our volunteer, has just got engaged, which is great. His fiancée, Jen, is lovely. Nigel Dawkins, who with his wife Catherine were our successors in Aden has, we have also just learned, been appointed to a post as a Canon on the staff of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, which is very good news.

In Sanaa, a much more lawless place now than Aden, the National Dialogue edges along. It is due to present its findings in two weeks’ time and to deliver a new constitution for the country. Ghoson has some young friends who are participating in it. Invited to join as young, intelligent and articulate representatives of the South and its concerns, they have found themselves quietly assigned to a dull committee dealing with transport …Despite this and other disappointments, Ghoson and her friends still hold out some hope for the Dialogue, but her mother, none. However, we did not spend all our time discussing Yemeni politics. As both mother and daughter had expressed interest in riding a train we took a ride on the magnificent Welsh Highland Railway through Snowdonia and concluded the day sitting in heather overlooking the beautiful Cregennan lakes above our home here in Dolgellau. We listened to the lapping of the waves and watched the sun sink behind the hills. Asked how she was, Sameera replied, “Just too happy.” Cregennan is a far cry from Aden’s refugees with whom her life is largely caught up.

Heather grows in Wales too

Welsh Highland Railway

In the last newsletter we mentioned the conversations going on with others on the council of reference for Christ Church and the clinics, about the future of the work, and in particular of the finding of new good personnel for both. The correspondence between us has been lively and positive. One suggestion made by several was that we try to establish a working relationship with a Christian medical charity in the region. That is happening. Two months ago Peter was invited, along with Dr Edwin Martin, who is on the council, with his wife Peta, to attend in Beirut a conference sponsored by HOME (Health Outreach to the Middle East) a fine Christian Arab medical foundation involved in supporting work in, amongst other countries, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan, and interested in getting involved in Yemen also. It was an inspiring and moving occasion, though we English participants had forgotten just how enthusiastic Egyptians and others are for long, late-night meetings …

Two weeks ago a young lady doctor from Egypt, sponsored by HOME, went to start a month’s placement at the medical clinic at Christ Church. It looks like a most promising development for which we are very grateful. Also coming out of our council dialogue was the suggestion that clergy, ideally not westerners, from across the diocese consider going to do short stints of a few weeks in Aden to encourage both the congregation and our local medical staff. It was a suggestion taken up conscientiously by Bishop Michael, who wrote putting the need to all the clergy. Three have already expressed a warm interest in going at different times over the next six months, which is wonderful.

A few weeks ago Yemen and Al Qaeda got brief, very high-profile attention in the western media. It angered many Yemenis, who saw the situation very differently to the way it was presented by CNN or the BBC. A Yemeni journalist wrote, ‘For many Yemenis – hunger, a lack of electricity and water scarcity are urgent day to day concerns. More than ten million people, almost half the country’s population, do not have enough to eat. Al Qaeda is seen by most as an obsession of foreign governments; attacks on oil pipelines occur on an almost weekly basis. The travel-alerts announced for Yemen have been in effect for years and the country has long witnessed the capture of foreigners.

The English Yemen Times even had a semi-comic but nonetheless quite chilling article in it entitled, ‘How to Kidnap a Foreigner.’ You can read the article in full HERE. The journalist concludes, ‘While foreign embassies have a responsibility for their own security, Yemen’s international supporters need to demonstrate clearly their commitment to be mindful of the harmful effect, that some counter-terrorism measures, like extensive drone strikes and over-flights in particular, have on Yemeni public opinion, and on the vital peace talks on which Yemen’s hopes for long-term change, rest.

Yemen, not Wales

We have included photos of the wedding and of Wales and hope you do not mind. We are short of new ones from Aden but will take more when next we return, hopefully later in the year – and after a move to Reading, which should take place very soon.

One or two kind friends have asked how the book, ‘Yemen: Heartbreak & Hope’, is going. The Greenbelt festival requested 20 copies for their book tent and a local heating engineer has just popped in here to buy a copy. In short, it continues ‘to go’. Reviews, apart from a slightly ambivalent one in the Church Times, have been most enthusiastic, one reviewer, who we thought might be particularly critical, describing it as ‘brilliant and beautiful’. It’s never too late to order (from lulu.com) and Peter promises to promote it no more.

We end with an e-mail received this week from the visiting Egyptian doctor mentioned earlier. ‘I like the clinic team, and have started to feel like they are my family. Today I went to Tahani and Ahmed’s wedding. The bride was very beautiful, the other girls too, and I enjoyed my time with them. Mr Mansour is doing a great job. He has a nice lovely family, and I have spent time with Ruba (his daughter) and her cousins. The clinic is going well, it has a good reputation. I like my patients too and also the accommodation is very good. I am blessed to share in this work.’  – So are we.

With our love and very best wishes in Christ.

Peter and Nancy


Make a donation to Christ Church and the Ras Morbat Clinic NOW with JustGiving
Make a secure donation with PayPal to Christ Church Aden NOW
Pages:
Yemen - Heartbreak and Hope by Peter Crooks

Latest News

Latest Comments

News Archives