House of Memories - National Museums Liverpool’s award-winning dementia awareness programme – have launched Memories of Yemen, a digital first for the UK. This landmark new package on the ever popular My House of Memories app is specifically designed for those living with dementia within the Yemeni community to connect with their heritage through artefacts, stories, traditions and images collated by others within the community.
Inspired by local student Abdul Wase, the app has been co-created with the Liverpool Yemeni community through organisations such as Liverpool Arabic Centre, Al-Taiseer Mosque and the Al-Ghazali Centre, as well as with support from the Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre. Abdul’s prime motivation was his grandmother, who lives with dementia. Through the project he is hoping to raise awareness of the condition.
“Nan has been living with dementia for a long time,” says Abdul, 18. “We found out because she began to be slower, her brain started to slow down, her movements, her thoughts.”
“I saw what National Museums Liverpool was doing with House of Memories, which includes memory walks and family activities, creating physical memory suitcases for different communities, memory trees, memory boxes – as well as the My House of Memories app, which lets you explore objects from the past and share memories on a smartphone or tablet. I thought that having a version of the app with Yemeni music, pictures of traditional and cultural Yemeni artefacts, and in two languages would be great ways to educate people about both dementia and Yemen.”
The Memories of Yemen app content includes objects from daily life on themes such as cooking, entertainment, rural life, clothing and jewellery. Examples include a jambiya - a curved dagger traditionally worn for ceremonial purposes - and a taboon, a clay oven used to make fresh bread.
Carol Rogers, Director of House of Memories, said: “All of our work with House of Memories is rooted in community creation – and Abdul has become a bit of a star. He’s got a real passion for his Yemeni heritage, and he feels very strongly about the importance of continuing the traditions of his community, as well as increasing the wider community’s understanding of Yemeni culture.
“Memories of Yemen is about trying to keep people connected with families. It’s in Arabic and English and is a lovely project, positioned so that the young people in the Yemeni community can help us to connect with Yemeni elders.
“It’s a UK first, with potential to be adapted to more communities – it's an integral part of our work at House of Memories to be in our city’s neighbourhoods, powerfully connected within communities.”
The project has been supported by extensive work within Liverpool’s Yemeni communities, as well as through funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund. It will be supported by collections access and research from The Fashion Museum Bath and other online UK museum Yemeni collections and will enable young people to capture, preserve and digitise familiar and untold community stories, traditions and culture linked to museum collections. As part of the existing, free My House of Memories app, it is based on the power of objects and music to elicit deeply held memories that can help people living with dementia to create personal connections with family, friends and caregivers.