The 20th of June marks World Refugee Day, a day dedicated to raise awareness about the realities lived by refugees around the world and to honour the strength, resilience, courage and perseverance of the millions of people who were forced to flee war, persecution and violence in their country of origin, leaving everything behind. On World Refugee Day, let’s meet the refugees seeking to rebuild their livelihoods in Turkey.
As one of Syria’s neighbouring countries, Turkey is currently hosting over 3.5 million Syrian refugees, as well as over 300,000 refugees of Palestinian, Afghan, Iraqi, and Iranian origins. Since early 2017, ACTED has been implementing projects in the Mersin province in Southern Turkey to increase livelihood opportunities for refugees: 865 refugees have participated in language and vocational training or microenterprise development programmes.
Empowerment through learning
Originally Palestinian, Nour fled Baghdad with her two children at the beginning of 2016, to escape the direct threat posed by armed groups. Settling in Turkey gave her a sense of safety and security, but as a stay-at-home mother, she was still dependent on family members to provide for the household. Nour was introduced to ACTED’s initiatives in the country through her relatives. She aspired to learn Turkish to facilitate her integration, and thus improve her living conditions. After one month of language training with ACTED, Nour gained confidence. She was able to register both her brother’s and her children for school, without needing a translator.
"I want to get in touch with the Turkish people. Language is culture," Nour says.
Following this first success, she decided to keep learning new skills and is now participating in ACTED’s internet programming vocational training. Nour now hopes to find a job to be able to support her family, and make sure they all integrate into the Turkish society.
Nadia, an Iraqi refugee attending the same training, explains: “When this programme started I was really happy and considered it a step towards getting a job. The conflict and stress I went through had left me distraught. Attending the course helped me feel normal again, move forward to return to a normal life and establish my new home here.”
Acquiring new skills, regaining a normal life
Youssef is from Damascus countryside and has a degree in mechanical engineering. He left Syria in 2015 and arrived in Mersin with his brother. There, they started working in daily labour, picking lemons and oranges, and then in a coal factory. Youssef heard about ACTED trainings from his friends. What interested him the most in the programme was the business management training, since he was interested in starting his own business but had no experience in the sector.
Youssef participated in Turkish language courses, AutoCAD vocational training and business management training provided by ACTED. After completing the training, he launched his beekeeping business, registered with Turkish authorities since March 2018. To support Youssef’s initiative and entrepreneurial spirit, ACTED provided him with a small grant to pay for his registration expenses and buy beekeeping equipment. His business is now growing well and thank to his motivation and efforts, Youssef is now able to earn a living and rebuild his life in Turkey.