Mona, who was 19, thought it would take her four hours to get to the hospital from her home on top of rough mountains in north-west Yemen. The trip was 40 km (25 miles). But because there were no roads and she was having birth pains and it was raining, it took seven hours.
“I was falling apart with every step the camel took,” she said.
When the camel couldn’t go any further, Mona got off and walked the last part of the way with her husband. In the Mahweet area in the northwestern part of Yemen, Bani Saad Hospital is the only place where women can get health care. From Mona’s house in the town of Al-Maaqara, the only way to get to the facility is by camel or on foot through dangerous mountains.
Mona was afraid for her safety and the safety of her unborn child as she held onto her ride.
“The road was rough,” she said, remembering the “physically and mentally exhausting trip.”
“There were times when I prayed that God would take me away and protect my baby so I could escape the pain.”
Mona doesn’t remember how she got to the hospital, but she does remember how hopeful she felt when she heard her baby’s cries while nurses and surgeons worked on it.
She and her husband named their son Jarrah after the doctor who helped save their lives.
From the nearby towns, the roads to the hospital are small. Some are broken up or blocked because of the eight-year war between pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led group and the rebel Houthi movement, which is backed by Iran.
Women, family members, or partners often walk with pregnant women for hours through the hills to the hospital.
Salma Abdu, 33, was travelling with a woman who was going to have a baby. About halfway through her trip, she saw a pregnant woman who had died in the middle of the night.
Salma wants people to show kindness to the women and children.
“We need hospitals, shops, and roads. We can’t get out of this valley. People who are lucky have safe births. “Others die, too, after going through the terrible trip,” she said.
Some people have enough money to pay for the hospital, but not enough to get there.
Hicham Nahro, who works for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Yemen, says that every two hours, a woman dies during childbirth in Yemen because of something that could have been avoided.
Mr. Nahro said that women in remote parts of Yemen did not usually go to the doctor or ask for help unless they were bleeding or in a lot of pain.