Syrian Refugees Struggling to Make Ends Meet in Turkey: Victor’s story

A year into the war, twenty-five of Victor’s family members were killed right before his eyes, when bombs hit a family reunion in northern Syria. Victor and his wife decided to flee to Turkey with their children, only one month after their previous displacement inside Syria, from an area hard hit by the war. They knew they could no longer risk their children’s safety in the country they loved.

During their flight, Hanan, Victor’s wife (who was eight months pregnant) and unborn baby were injured and went to a hospital immediately after crossing the border into Turkey. After many months, Hanan and her newborn baby Elias were able to recover from their injuries. However, after they returned from the hospital, Victor suffered a stroke – a condition he suffered due to the year of hardship his family faced.

International Relief Teams is working with partner organization Concern Worldwide to support an e-voucher program for Syrian refugees like Victor and Hanan in Turkey. Ninety percent of Syrian refugees in Turkey live in local communities in rural and urban areas, with many living in abject poverty. These populations are increasingly vulnerable because they are less likely to become self-sufficient. This is where International Relief Teams steps in.

IRT’s support of the e-voucher program provides funding to Syrian refugee families in southern Turkey. In August 2016, your donations supported 85 households (510 people). The  e-voucher program allows refugees to buy basic items including food, hygiene and household items, shoes, clothes and fuel from local stores. This program helps Syrian refugees living in Turkey integrate into Turkish society and live with dignity. 

A refugee shops with their e-voucher card.

Hanan buys sugar, tea, oil, rice and gas for the cooker with her e-voucher. She says she would like to save a little to buy mattresses and clothes for the children but “the priority is food, and that is what I spend the e-voucher on.” Hanan says she could not survive without the e-voucher program and worries it might end. “I cannot imagine how to feed the children without this support,” she says.

The couple also worries about their children’s education. They are registered at a local school but they do not attend when it’s cold because it’s located far from their home and they cannot afford transportation fees. Victor says, “the children are too young, they don’t know how to cross the street, it’s not safe for them to go on their own. We feel afraid for them because of the long distance.”

Despite Victor’s problems and unimaginable heartache, he still manages to have a positive outlook on life. He believes in good karma and he feels the e-voucher program is his reward for a past good deed. Also, he believes the people supporting IRT’s e-voucher program and other Syrian families like his will be rewarded in the future for their generosity.

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