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Salwa Al'Hafly


Childhood in Sanaa, Yemen, 1980s

Colour photograph of a roof top view in Sanaa, Yemen.
Roof top view of Sanaa © Tim Smith


Salwa Al-hafly grew up in Yemen and came to England in 2002. This extract has been taken from an interview with Salwa, recorded by Ingrid Hanson for the Burngreave Voices oral history archive in July 2006.

I was born in 1974 in Sanaa, the capital city of Yemen. We all lived in a big house, I have a big family with five brothers and four sisters and my grandmother and aunty lived with us too. I started school with my brother when I was eight years old. We used to go at seven in the morning and come back at twelve thirty. Then I helped Mum in the kitchen to make lunch and wash the dishes. But after this I could go out to play with my friends. We played together, girls and boys. We didn't have any bought toys, just things we made ourselves, like dolls made from wood. We even used to take some of our own hair to put on the doll to give them hair. And we had running and football too, out on the street. It was very safe then, almost no cars. And at five o'clock we watched TV, only one channel then, not like all the satellite channels today. We watched a film or cartoon for just half an hour and that was all.