Ahmed, a 12-year-old boy, was born and raised in Damascus. Because of the ongoing conflict in his home country Syria since 2011, his family had to leave their home. He now lives with his mother and two siblings in Urfa, Turkey. His father was able to make it to Germany where they have connections. As he is trying to get the necessary papers for his family to be able to reunite in Germany, he never skips to send them his earnings from his new job as a carpenter. Since family reunification visas take usually 1-2 years, Ahmed and his family have to survive in a foreign country as they wait for their immigration visa.
Ahmed still has some relatives and friends living in Syria. As he misses his loved ones and worries about them every single day, he is trying to get used to his new life. They’ve been living in a studio apartment since their arrival in Urfa six months ago. He dreams of becoming a civil engineer someday to rebuild what war has destroyed. Knowing that he can’t miss out on education, he worked really hard to learn Turkish as fast as possible. He is now enrolled in a public school where half of his classmates are in the same situation as him. While his middle sister, Mais, also learned Turkish and continues her primary education, his mother tries to support their family by selling hand knitted clothing and takes care of his youngest sister.
Despite all the obstacles Ahmed and his family are facing such as poverty and discrimination, they are hopeful about the future. And they know that they are not alone. Meet Support to Life, a humanitarian aid agency as well as one of our partners, which provides support to Ahmed and many other Syrian refugees living in Turkey. Support to Life (STL), established in 2005 by five women, works with the principal objective of helping communities to meet their basic needs and rights, not just in Turkey but the neighboring areas as well. With three community centers located in Urfa, Hatay and İstanbul under Refugee Protection Program, STL provides emergency assistance as well as psycho-social support, language and vocational courses to the disaster affected communities. These centers are also aim to provide a common ground for refugee population to meet the host community as the locals are welcomed to attend the activities.
Ahmed met STL when they first arrived to the ancient city of Urfa. It was STL who provided his family with food packages and blankets. Since then, he’s been a frequent visitor at STL’s Community Center with his sister. He regularly joins the language, IT and other skill development workshops offered by them. His favorite activity at the center was when Clowns Without Borders visited them few weeks ago. Clowns Without Borders is a group of people, who travels refugee camps all over to world with a mission to spread laughter to children living in difficult conditions. STL partnered with international NGOs to bring Clowns Without Borders to their community centers with a mission to teach children to fight war and violence with a smile. Ahmed’s mother also benefited from the center when she needed legal guidance for their status in Turkey as well as how they can reunite with Ahmed’s father in Germany. She also gets help from STL’s connections to sell her handmade craftwork.
As STL works to increase their reach and improve the conditions of their community centers, TPF partnered with them for a very special project- We are all Neighbors. We are all Neighbors is a Giving Circle project created under TPF’s roof by a group of young professionals with a mission to provide relief to Syrian refugees. It aims to raise funds to rebuild STL’s community center in Urfa so that refugees can have better access to support sessions, job trainings, therapy and more. There are currently two existing buildings at STL’s site. With this project, additional spaces will be built from shipping containers so that the organization can function more effectively and offer more activities to the refugees. Take a look at We’re all Neighbors’ page to be help Syrian refugees start a new life in peace. Ahmed and many others will be truly grateful for your contribution.