A home away from home: CARE supports Syrian refugees in Southern Turkey

A home away from home: CARE supports Syrian refugees in Southern Turkey

Publication info

Posted
4/3/18
By
Joelle Bassoul

‘When we first came here, I used to put my son behind on my motorbike and drive daily to the border, which is very close, to show him the Syrian flag on the other side,’ says Abu Ahmad[1], sitting in the small courtyard that separates his two-room home from the kitchen and bathroom corner.

Abu Ahmad crossed the border into Turkey seven years ago, fleeing the war in Aleppo with his wife and six children, now aged between 21 and 11. He settled down in Kilis, a small town of 93,000 people, additionally now hosting 130,000 Syrian refugees. ‘We miss our country badly, but what is there left of the Syria we know to go back to?’ adds the 47-year-old teacher.

Two of his sons found jobs as tailors to pay the monthly rent of 300 Turkish liras (US$ 75), and his wife Halima works in the fields from time to time earning 30 Turkish liras (US$ 7.5) for nine hours of work. The family has a hard time making ends meet, and cannot afford moving into a better house. ‘This was a goats’ pen’, he explains, pointing at one of the rooms. ‘The landlord took them out, and I repainted the walls to make it livable,’ says Abu Ahmad.

According to Halima, there was no kitchen or separate bathroom. Dishes, clothes, and bodies were washed in the same corner of the courtyard, with the used water being evacuated through a hole in the ground. ‘It was very difficult. I would crouch all day long, doing laundry and dishwashing,’ she says. The toilet, set in a tiny separate bloc at the entrance of the home, was not connected to the water system.

To improve Abu Ahmad’s family living conditions, CARE rehabilitated their home. A team of engineers and contractors installed a sink and tiled the kitchen floor, changed broken windows and doors, put tiles and a shower in a new bathroom separate from the kitchen, and linked the toilet to running water.

Abu Ahmad’s home is one of the 400 that will be rehabilitated by CARE in Kilis by August 2018. The project, which started in November 2017, includes two other components, one targeting the external rehabilitation of buildings (stairs, walls, roofing, electrical wirings), and the other aiming at upgrading communal spaces, such as parks and community centers, in coordination with the municipality of Kilis.

‘We are planning on installing washing machine rooms in community centers, to be used by both refugees and local residents, in areas of high population density' says Ali Kaya, CARE’s project coordinator. We will provide the equipment and the municipality will bring the washing powder.’ 

‘It is so much better now. I wash the dishes with ease,’ says Halima. Abu Ahmad adds, laughing: ‘She even tells me to go take a shower several times a day.’

 

 

Before and after: In the town of Kelis in the south of Turkey, home for 93,000 locals and around 130,000 Syrian refugees, Halima and her family live in what used to be a goats' pen. "It was very difficult," says Halima. "I would crouch all day long, doing laundry and dishwashing." CARE installed a sink and tiled the kitchen floor at Halima's home, changed broken windows and doors, put tiles and a shower in a new bathroom separate from the kitchen, and linked the toilet to running water. (Photo: Joelle Bassoul/CARE).

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