Saleem al-Harazi was on a mission to buy eggs and milk for his family in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, when his life was changed forever.
As he walked through Change Square, the 11-year-old was shot in the face by a sniper during the bloodiest day in Yemen’s recent history.
VISIT Saleem’s fundraiser page, set up by Jylon and Iona
It was March 18 2011 and the Arab Spring had just begun to ripple through the region.
Saleem al-Harazi recovers in hospital after after being shot in the face in Yemen’s Change Square during a day of protest. (Image: Iona Craig)
More than a year later, and after losing both his eyes, Saleem’s life is starting to return to normal, but his story has become one of the tragic symbols of the human impact of Yemen’s Revolution.
It was through a haunting image in National Geographic magazine that Jylon Grandy, a 10-year-old schoolboy from suburban Melbourne, first stumbled across Saleem’s story.
“I came across this page and Saleem al-Harazi was sitting on a couch with his mum. I looked at his eyes and thought ‘where did they go?’” he explains.
Jylon’s mother Sharon says reading about Saleem’s shooting “deeply upset” her son. “We couldn’t console him. It was a very emotional evening.”
Unable to shake the idea that a child on the other side of the world had experienced such a horrific incident, Jylon — largely unprompted by his parents — came up with a plan to raise money to help the young Yemeni boy.
“I was brainstorming what I could do for him, and I came up with the best idea: a walk-a-thon.”
Supported by his parents and his school, Jylon’s plan started ticking into action.
The family contacted Iona Craig, a freelance journalist currently based in Yemen, who was in Change Square with tens of thousands of others the day Saleem was shot.
LISTEN: Iona Craig talks about the shootings in Change Square on March 18