A single mother, Emira works hard to meet the needs of herself and her children. Moreover, she has the self-confidence of being a part of a circle of solidarity. This is the story of Emira, a story of perseverance and hope from Syria to Şanlıurfa despite all difficulties.
My name is Emira*, I was living in the Ayn al-Arab region of Syria with my husband and children. I would like to tell you my story. It is a story so full of different and challenging experiences that it sounds unbelievable. On the other hand, my story is similar to that of thousands of Syrians who fled their country in search of a safe harbor.
We were living a safe and quiet life in our country. I was working as a teacher and my husband was working as a taxi driver. My children were going to the school and I had good relations with my neighbors. Our lives were just going by.
We continued to stay at home in the first period of the war in Syria. We were not thinking of leaving Syria. Clashes had not yet started where we lived, but economic difficulties started to unfold. The war continued to spread, and in 2013 they started to throw bombs on people. We started to worry and fear for ourselves and our children.
DAESH (ISIS) came about in 2014. The terror, massacres, destruction… Especially after the events in Iraq, we figured out that we were no longer safe. We had two options; we were either going to stay in Syria and face the deadly violence, or leave. That was a tough choice. We decided to leave Syria with friends. We took some money and a few pieces of jewelry and left home in a hurry. There was no time to gather our belongings or find and prepare the necessary personal documents. We chose to leave our country behind but this migration path had various other difficulties. We put our lives in the hands of smugglers. We took all chances and our main objective was to go somewhere safe and that was the neighboring Turkey. After three difficult days at the border, we could cross into Turkey. I remember, I could not believe that I was alive.
Survival is a very strong instinct. It forced us to love life and hold on to it. But challenges kept surfacing. We had a difficult start in Turkey. All we wanted for was to find a job and a house. The language barrier was at the top of the challenges we faced.
At that time, we were staying in Suruç, Şanlıurfa. Because we could not find jobs, our economic situation deteriorated. One of my husband’s friends suggested that we move to Akçakale and work in a cotton field there. We agreed to it without hesitation, we had no other choice anyway. That was a tough experience for us because both my husband and I were doing this kind of a job for the first time. We worked in a cotton field for about six months. When the employer gave us only a small portion of the salary we had earned, once again we hit the road to find work.
Because we had no place to stay, we stayed with a friend living in central Şanlıurfa for one month. Then we rented our own house. But my husband could not find a job there either. We were deep in debt. Poverty and other problems disrupted our relationship as well, and my husband and I decided to separate. My children stayed with me. Now I had to face a new challenge: providing alone for my children.
I needed both financial and psychological support to get over the difficulties I was facing. I participated in a session of Support to Life which a friend had recommended. After the session, I told Support to Life staff that my daughter had weak eyesight. They helped me get glasses for my daughter. Afterwards, they invited me to a Turkish class that was given by the association. I participated and started learning Turkish. In the meantime, I was unable to pay my rent. Support to Life helped me get through that economic problem, this time with rent support.
Thanks to this support, my children and I were able to overcome the challenges we were facing. We learned Turkish and this significantly changed our lives. We were able to blend in more easily with the society, the environment and our neighbors. And most importantly, I could find a job because I learned Turkish. A Turkish neighbor that I like very much and who supports me suggested that I work at a tailor shop. Right now, I am still working there. I cover my expenses and meet the needs of my children with what I earn. This has made me financially and psychologically stronger and ensured that I could stand on my own feet in this life as a single mother.
If you ask me what I dream of, I dream of going back to Syria one day, after all we have been through. When Syria once again becomes the country that we dream of and long for, when Syria will be a land of freedom, justice, order, and human rights, my children and I will return.
We supported Emira under our refugee protection project we implement in Şanlıurfa in partnership with the international humanitarian aid organization Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe and funding from European Union Humanitarian Aid. The project aims at increasing the living standards of refugees in rural areas and ensuring their access to rights and services while supporting their active participation in the community.
Support to Life Şanlıurfa Outreach Field Worker
Support to Life Şanlıurfa Information Line Worker
Çiğdem Usta Güner
Support to Life Corporate Communication Expert
* Our beneficiary’s name is changed to protect her personal rights.