News

"We are alive, but as if we were half-dead..." - Syrian women's stories: Volume 1

3 April 2019

Together with the journalist İpek İzci and the photographer Selçuk Şamiloğlu (Istanbul & Eskişehir), Recai Güler (Bursa), we visited UNFPA Turkey's European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) funded Women and Girls Safe Spaces (WGSS) in Istanbul, Bursa and Eskişehir to talk to the Syrian women to hear their experiences. These stories were published on Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet on 10 March 2019. This is the first collection of the collected stories. 


Wadha Elhasu Al Mujahir, 33 - ESKİŞEHİR

Wadha Elhasu Al Mujahir, 33 - ESKİŞEHİR

Elif, Eylül, Ahmet ve Hüseyin. The girls were born here. For this reason we wanted to give them Turkish names. (When asked about his co-wife, he says). My wife said ‘’I cannot leave them’’, because her children are left orphans (Just at that moment Ahmet, his son, interrupts him: “Because they have no father, we take care of them. I am happy here. My best friend is a Turk; his name is Emirhan. I love Gülşen. The TV series I like most is ‘’Cennet Mahallesi’’ (Paradise Quarter), everyday some crazy things take place there. My teachers sometimes ask me of Syria. I haven’t heard of Beşar Esad. I have heard of Erdoğan. My homeland is here. Atatürk saved our fatherland; he stopped the war. I want to become a Turkish soldier, to protect the world from evil men’’)

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler


Ahd Jadouh, 32 - BURSA

"I am chemist; I cannot find any job" - Ahd Jadouh, 32 - BURSA

I am a chemist. Nobody wants to employ me just because I am a Syrian. I came here for my children; they can have a better education here. When my daughter began attending the school, her teacher ill-treated her. She had a Syrian friend. The teacher shouted at them when they spoke in Arabic. Now she is going to another school; her new teacher treats her well. She says to my daughter: ‘’You are very hard-working; you also speak Turkish very well’’.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler 


Yana Al Makhouz, 22 - BURSA

"The Syrians I saw in Syria and the ones I see here are no more the same people; they have changed" - Yana Al Makhouz, 22 - BURSA

I came from Rakka in 2017. Telling people, ‘’we are going to Aleppo to visit my grandfather’’, I left my hometown together with my parents and siblings and never returned there. The Syrians I know in Syria and those I see here are no more the same people; they have changed a lot. They are frightened. They are afraid of each other. When they see a Syrian on the street, they turn their backs, avoiding speaking with each other. It is so bad… People do not trust each other.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler 


Ravze Al Muhimid, 33 - ESKİŞEHİR

"We are alive, but as if we were half-dead..." - Ravze Al Muhimid, 33 - ESKİŞEHİR

I feel completely lonely. I have had an intense headache for one month now. We do not always have drugs available at home. (I pass her a painkiller I had in my bag. She seems reluctant to take it, saying something in Arabic. The interpreter says: ‘’She feels you can need it’’. She takes it when I tell her that I have others at home.) The house is cold; we have no refrigerator, no beds and no armchairs. Children get frequently ill. Lately my son had chicken pox. How can one return to a country beset by war? One can return there only in a shroud. We are living here as if we were half-dead. (Asked “Does it also happen that you have to go to bed hungry?’’, she says “I don’t want to answer’’. A few seconds later, she says, without lifting her head: ‘’Because my husband has no job, sometimes we have nothing to eat.’’)

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler  


Necah Muhammed, 40 - BURSA

"He had got married 10 days ago when he hosted us in his house" - Necah Muhammed, 40 - BURSA

In Kilis we stayed in a house for three days. Turks did receive us in their houses. We get on well with our neighbours in Bursa. On Fridays we have a Quran course, like the ones held in Turkey. Should I not appear at the course, they ring me up and ask ‘’Why didn’t you come?’’. My husband had a Turkish friend in İstanbul. We met him when he came to Syria for a trip 10 years ago. My husband was working as a truck driver at the time. My husband helped him, preventing a taxi-driver to rob him. We hosted him in our house for two days. Then we regularly heard from each other. We rang him up after coming to Turkey. He welcomed us in his house with our five children; he had got married just 10 days ago. Saying “you are a newly married couple’’, we rented a house. He paid the first three rental fees and bought us household goods amounting to 12 thousand Lira. I really don’t find words to express our gratitude for what he has done.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet - By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler


Cihan İsa, 29 - BURSA

"If I am reborn, I would like to be born as a resident in Ankara" - Cihan İsa, 29 - BURSA

If they ask me ‘’Where would you like to be born if you are reborn?’’, I would say in Ankara! The condition of women in Turkey is better than the Syrian women. I came from Aleppo in 2014. I and my husband were wounded at the foot. At the time I was pregnant in the nine month. Then we came to Kilis. There I met a good-hearted woman physician. She said the baby had died in my womb. In Turkey I have had a different perspective to the world. Now I have gained self-confidence. I can walk in the street, get on the bus alone and go to the promenade to enjoy the view of the sea. In Syria I had never got on a bus.

Published on Hürriyet Pazar, 10 March 2019, Sunday Supplement of Daily Hürriyet / By İpek İzci - Photographs by Selçuk Şamiloğlu & Recai Güler