By Hannah Stevens @hanahshewans

FREERUNNERS are mending fractured relationships between divided communities across war torn Yemen

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Leap of faith: A member of the team jumps between the shot out shells of two abandoned tanks

Yemen’s first freerunning team, based in Aden, have branched out across the conflicted country to bring communities together through a shared love of parkour.

Founded by Mohamed Samy in 2012, the group is made up of seven members - Ahmed Waqqas, Rami Abdorabo, Taha Raed, Mohamed Qaeda, Abod Omar and Karam Malik - who is primarily the group’s photographer.

War’s playground: A group of children play amongst the abandoned homes and bombed out buildings of Aden, Yemen

After practicing together for three years, the team’s life was turned upside down by the Yemen civil war and the occupation of Aden by Houthi rebels.

Mohammed Samy said: “Nothing in this life has made us mature more than the war itself.
“It was a lesson for all of us that nothing remains the same and no one knows when he’s going to die.

Tanks of hope: The freerunners now use the barren war torn landscape to showcase their skills

“It was really bad and terrifying, however, we had to adapt with it and kept training even when the war was still happening.”

Photographer Maria de la Guardia undertook a perilous 16 hour journey in a fishing boat to capture one of their daily practices on a local beach.

Although the rebels were turned out of Aden by the city’s resistance movement, Al Qaeda still have a strong presence in the area and are continuing to resist the government and any foreign presence.

Perfect balance: The group are extremely dedicated and try to practice at least once a day

During the war the group was splintered when many fled the city for safety - only Taha remained in Aden at the beginning of the war.

Struggling to find food and water and unable to leave his home because of snipers, Taha lived in Aden without electricity for two months.

After months of living on edge, the group finally saw a glimmer of hope on the first day of liberation - the 27th day of Ramadan in 2015 - and decided to get straight back to training, even though active fighting was still rampant.

Freerunning is the group’s lifeline to one another and they hope to spread their message of overcoming the war through parkour across Yemen.

Rebounding: After the group returned to Aden they restarted practice the same day the city was liberated

Karam said: “We thought the war would never end, like what we see in Syria, but we overcame it and we became stronger.

“The war killed our fear. The war was our biggest fear, but we came out of it and now there is nothing left to scare us.”

Reaching out: The team now travel between different ethno-groups in an effort to narrow the divide between communities

Eager to spread their fearless attitude, the group began training using the barren landscape of abandoned homes, bombed out buildings and tanks scattered across their city.

By using the remnants of war to train, they hope to spread the message that parkour can help the people of Yemen to overcome the scars of war.

Building blocks: Their work has inspired other freerunning teams to form across Yemen

Now the group travel between communities spreading their message and other parkour groups have begun to spring up across Yemen - a symbol of peaceful defiance in an era of conflict.

Karam said: “It is a way of connecting people living in Yemen, and those living outside. We have created a big community abroad and we feel proud - it is a big family joining from all over our country and the world.”

Committed: They want to show Yemen and the world that they can overcome war to find new hope

The group hope that their strength will continue to inspire others across the globe, but they are acutely aware of the limitations they face while Yemen remains divided.

Taha added: “We want to show that the people of Yemen are not all terrorists; they are kind.

Sheer determination: In the face of war the group have found strength in what they love

“The main goal is to keep practicing, developing and travelling - making our dream a reality.

“The dream is making our hobby a career, but as we have so little support the reality will be difficult.”