London boy and Yemeni girl strike up heartwarming friendship after becoming pen pals

'It’s not fair that adults fight with each other…and the kids are the ones that suffer more,' says six-year-old Apollo

Sarah Young@sarah_j_young
Thursday 02 April 2020 09:46
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British boy and Yemeni girl begin extraordinary friendship

Save The Children has described the pen pal friendship between a boy from London and a girl from Yemen as “humbling”.

Last year, six-year-old Apollo, sent a letter to a young Yemeni girl, Razan*, after he saw her story in one of the charity's campaigns in October 2019.

The pair have since struck up a touching pen-pal friendship, sharing letters with their thoughts and hobbies, favourite animals and family trips.

Born in the war-torn city of Hodeidah, Razan* and her family were forced to flee their home during an airstrike. During the attack, shrapnel from a bomb seriously injured the young girl’s eye.

Struck by her story, Apollo decided to put pen to paper, and write to the girl who had a bandaged eye. “How are you?” he asked, before adding, “Do you like animals too?”

While Apollo did not expect to receive a reply, with Save the Children's support, Razan* was referred to a specialist hospital and her eyesight was saved.

Once fully recovered from her injuries, the young girl sat down to return a letter to her new penpal, writing: “I like black and white rabbits.”

Apollo’s understanding and compassion towards the people of Yemen goes back a long way.

At the age of three, his parents first taught him about the conflict there and the family began fundraising together.

On his third birthday, he held a party and asked his guests to donate to Yemen, rather than give him birthday presents. The young boy has also played the cello at concerts to help raise more funds.

Apollo says he is worried that children and families in Yemen are in danger because of the war (Save The Children)

“I’m very worried that it’s not fair that we have everything we need and that children in Yemen don’t have anything,” Apollo said in a statement.

“I’m six. Five years ago, it started – the war on Yemen – so nearly all my life it has been war in Yemen. It’s not fair that adults fight with each other… and the kids are the ones that suffer more.”

Meanwhile, his penpal Razan* is still receiving psychosocial support from Save the Children specialists to help her deal with her experiences.

Apollo holds a drawing from his Yemeni penfriend Razan* at home in London (Save The Children)

However, she says, “I'm happy. I'm not going back to the hospital and I'm happy that I'm alive.”

George Graham, Save The Children’s children and armed conflict director, described the children’s friendship as “incredibly humbling”.

“Despite their differences, separated by a vicious war and living half a world apart, they are united by their human connection,” Graham said.

Razan* holds a drawing of her and her friend Apollo (Save The Children) 

“These children serve as a timely reminder to us all that kindness is a universal language.”

He added that at a time when healthcare in the UK has never been under more pressure, it is “sobering to think about the catastrophic devastation that coronavirus could cause in a country like Yemen, whose health system has been decimated by war for five years”.

“As Britain rightly focuses on halting the spread of the coronavirus here in the UK, we must not forget that we can still transform the lives of children like Razan,” Graham explained.

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