Living in Akçakale, Şanlıurfa with her 3 children, Farise had to overcome many difficulties in Turkey where she has been living for 7 years. Exactly when she felt she was about to break down, she met Support to Life. Now she has both hope and opportunities for a more better life.
In Şanlıurfa’s neighboring district to Syria, Akçakale, we walk through narrow streets and arrive at a whitewashed house. In front of a door that opens to the common courtyard of several homes, we are greeted by three children with smiling faces and bright eyes. These are 11-year-old Habip, 10-year-old Esabil, and 8-year-old Azze. One of the few furniture in the house, such as floor mats, stoves and carpets, is a rope swing attached to the ceiling in the hallway. The first sign that tells me this is a peaceful home for children is that swing.
The mother of the children, Farise*, is a 34-year-old, quiet and shy woman. In this house, we meet four of the women and children that make up 70% of the 3,7 million Syrian refugees registered in Turkey**. When we hear their story, we understand that it was not easy to establish this peaceful home. Although our first impression of her was shy, when we press the record button, Farise’s story streams from her mouth.
Farise was born in Aleppo. When she was 18, she married her now deceased husband through an arranged marriage and they settled in Raqqa. “We had it easy” says Farise about her life in Raqqa with her husband, who worked as electrician When the war broke out in Syria, the couple decided to flee to Turkey to protect their sons, who were 4 and 3 years old at the time.
“When we first arrived, we did not receive any support. My husband was cleaning carpets for a daily wage. Rent, food, diapers… It wasn’t enough for anything. Life in Syria was cheaper. So, we returned.”
Meanwhile, her little daughter Azze, who is 8 years old today, was born. Then, the shop where Farise’s husband worked was bombed and her husband was killed. Once again, a journey in reverse direction begun, returning to Turkey…
“My mother was staying at the Akçakale camp. I stayed in that camp for around 5 years. True, finding water and taking a bath was a challenge, but still we were safe and happy.”
But when the camp she preferred to live in despite the challenges was closed and her mother died in the meantime, Farise came to a crossroad again. And at this crossroad, she married another man in an arranged marriage, hoping to have somebody to support her by her side. But this marriage, which began in hopes of finding support, caused great difficulties for both Farise and her children. Farise managed to run from this man, who forced the whole family to work and was violent towards Farise. But she could not take her little daughter, who was born from this second marriage, with her. As Support to Life teams, we provide legal support to Farise regarding this custody issue, which is currently in court.
Trying to start a new life with her 3 children and fighting a legal battle for her youngest daughter, Farise had a hard time as a single parent:
“Before I met Support to Life, I was cleaning apartment stairs. I could barely pay for my water or electricity bills. I couldn’t pay rent for 3 months. My landlord wanted to evict me from the house. One of my neighbors recommended Support to Life because she knew about the difficulties I was going through.”
As Support to Life, we provided 3 months of rental support to Farise and her family, delivered stationery packages for the children, and referred the family to Directorate of Social Services to receive ‘Social and Economic Support (SES)’. The eldest child, Habip, was working on the streets due to the economic difficulties the family was going through, but is now back in school along with his siblings.
“Now this new house we moved to is good, and I am happy with my neighbors. I have both Syrian and Turkish neighbors; they are like sisters to me. My children can go out and play. They have friends in the neighborhood. Before, I was feeling sorry for Habip, because he had to work. I couldn’t even give my children pocket money. But now all three of them are doing well at school. If I hadn’t met you, my life would have been very difficult.”
As the implementing partner of the international humanitarian organization Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, our main goal in our project for refugees, funded by European Union Humanitarian Aid, is to raise the living standards of refugees living in rural areas like Farise and to help them access the most basic rights and services such as education and shelter.
While we were saying goodbye to Farise’s family, Azze, who was swinging at the courtyard, smiled at us with her freckled face, sending us a kiss. We hope that this family’s life will not be overshadowed by bad memories from their past, and their future will be as bright as those children’s eyes.
* The names of our beneficiary and her family were changed to protect their personal rights.
Support to Life Communication Officer