Being a humanitarian worker sometimes means supporting empowerment of an individual while sometimes it means striving to keep a soul alive. Lokman Amaç, social worker in Diyarbakır province in eastern Turkey, tells us how he supported 3 month-old Sena in her struggle to survive.
I am Lokman Amaç. I am working as a social worker at Support to Life Diyarbakır. As the operating partner of the international humanitarian organization Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, we implement a project for refugees funded by the European Union. The main purpose of this project is to improve the living standards of the refugee population in rural areas, including their access to rights and services for their effective participation in society. But sometimes, we come across cases where a simple action really means ‘support to life’ in the sense of saving a life. I would like to tell you one of these stories, the story of Sivar*.
Sivar is a 25-year-old young man with four children. In 2013, he fled the war in Syria and came to Turkey, where he had his two daughters who are 6 and 4 years old today. In 2018 Sivar’s father died, and he returned to Syria. His third child Ayla was born there. However, because of the war, the family had to come back to Turkey:
“In June 2019, I returned to Turkey with my wife and 3 children. At that time, my wife was 6 months pregnant. She was having a difficult pregnancy. But because we had voluntarily returned to Syria, our temporary protection registration was cancelled. That was why we could not go to the hospital. We applied at the District Directorate of Migration for temporary protection registration, but it was denied.”
Sivar, who was working as a shepherd in a village and didn’t receive any social assistance, contacted us. We helped his wife Haya register so she could have regular health checks, and helped the family obtain temporary protection registration for their three children. Doctor control of Haya unfortunately brought bad news. We learned that the unborn baby had a serious health problem, but at the time nothing could be done other than routine checks until the child was born.
3 HOSPITALS DID NOT ACCEPT THEM
The day of delivery came… But when the family went to a state hospital, they were referred to a private hospital due to workload. After an emergency delivery, the baby that was named Sena was diagnosed with hydrocephaly. This condition led to excessive fluid buildup in her brain. She underwent a series of operations and a device was implanted in her brain. Baby Sena stayed in intensive care for 45 days. Soon after she was discharged, the device broke and the 3-month-old baby started to have fluid built-up in her brain again.
“We went to 3 state hospitals but they all said they could not make any interventions, that we had to visit the doctor who had done the surgery. But the surgery was done in a private hospital where we couldn’t afford. I had to take leave from the farm I was working to take our child to doctor. Because I took too much leave, my employer laid me off,” says Sivar.
CLOSE CONTACT WITH THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH
The family that had no social assistance thus lost their only source of income and Sena’s condition was worsening. As Support to Life Diyarbakır protection team, we contacted the Ministry of Health and helped the family file a complaint. In this process, we stayed in close contact with the Ministry, shared information with them to have Sena checked into the state hospital as an emergency.
Sivar describes their experiences as: “At Pediatric Surgery unit my child was first treated for infection and then she had an operation. Had Support to Life not been by our side, our baby would have passed away either on the way to the hospital or at home.”
Now the device installed in Sena’s brain is renewed and she is doing much better. She is regularly checked by the doctor and we hope that she has a long life ahead of her.
LIVES CHANGED THANKS TO SMALL SUPPORT
We, the field workers, are happy to see how people’s lives change when we remove the obstacles and make minor interventions. Of course there are things that make us sad, like the sometimes unfair treatment our beneficiaries experience due to their lack of information on access to services. Living a life befitting human honor, accessing rights and services is everybody’s basic right. Incorrect provision of these services by service providers might unfortunately cause human lives. That is when humanitarian activities are of great significance.
Social Worker / Diyarbakır
Editor: Gözde Kazaz
* The names of our beneficiary and his family have been changed for protection reasons.