Syrian children in Turkey look to future with hope

By Emrah Gokmen and Muslum Etgu

MALATYA/SANLIURFA, Turkey (AA) – Thousands of Syrian children — who lost many of their relatives and took refuge in Turkey after fleeing the civil war — hope for a better future.

The war-weary children staying at accommodation centers across the country with the support of the Turkish government are dreaming of freedom in their country.

All of them have different stories related to the civil war. But, they all are happy with the means of living that Turkey has provided.

Many needs such as education, health, sports and rehabilitation are met at the accommodation centers.

Nilal Bakir, a high school student, is just one of 4,350 children staying at Beydagi Accommodation Center in eastern Malatya province.

Just like many others, Bakir also lost some of her relatives when her village in Syria was bombed.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, she said: “I was scared, but not anymore here. They gave us a book, pen, everything when we joined the school.”

Bakir’s aim is to become a nurse.

“I will help people. All the nurses in Syria came to Turkey […] I will return to my country and take care of our children,” she said.

– ‘Turkey is like a white rose for me’

Bakir thanked everyone in Turkey who extended support to her family. In a poem that she wrote, she likened Turkey to a “white rose.”

“Its color is peace. Its smell is fidelity, its branch is hope. Its root is trust,” she recited.

Safiye Yunus, 15, who is one of the 3,800 students studying at Harran Temporary Accommodation Center in southeastern Sanliurfa, also holds similar views with Bakir.

Yunus witnessed the killing of her cousin in Syria.

“I cried for days and could not get over the impact of the incident. My father and mother decided to come to Turkey due to my condition,” she said.

“After days of journey, we took refuge at a school near the Turkish border. We survived thanks to food and clothes sent from Turkey for 45 days,” she added.

Noting that they have been living in Harran for 6 years, Safiye said: “I am very happy in Turkey. I want Turkey to be a powerful and peaceful country.

"I am studying under very good circumstances. In my spare time, I play ‘baglama’ [a stringed musical instrument] and read books.”

Sulef Hasan, 15, another high school student, came to Turkey after his two cousins were killed in Aleppo.

“I couldn't go to school because of the war in Syria. It made me sad. I continue my education without interruption in Turkey. Turkey meets all our needs,” Hasan said.

“I want to become a doctor in Turkey and want to help people in my country," he added.

– Reading a Turkish poem

Rena Kelesh, 14, said they could not sleep from fear because of the bombings in the war-torn country.

“I'm very happy to be in Turkey. I learned Turkish and I read the poem "Flag" in a program held in 2017,” Kelesh said.

Ayet Dervish, another Syrian, said his uncle was arrested in Syria and he lost another uncle and some of his relatives as a result of the war.

"Me and all my friends are very happy at school in Turkey. I would like to thank the Turkish authorities who provided us with these opportunities."

Metin Yaman, the coordinator at Beydagi Accommodation Center, stated that 2,944 children out of 4,350 receive education and training at the camp.

“We also organize social and sport activities for children,” he added.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.