Turkey: Helping Syrian refugees live in the community

Maryam in her kitchen in Islahiye, Turkey

“It’s good to have neighbours who take care of you. It’s good to have supporters around you. CARE as well is a supporter.”

Maryam, a widow and mother of two young children, is one of nearly 4 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey. She fled Idlib with her children over six years ago, and for five years they lived in a temporary accommodation centre in Islahiye, Turkey. But with currently no prospect of returning to Syria, Maryam and her children – like over 95 per cent of Syrian refugees living in Turkey – wanted to live in a community as they felt isolated. She says:

I was afraid to come out of the camp because I had nothing. [But] I heard from my sister that CARE supports people outside the camp, and when I knew that gave me the confidence to leave the camp.  I contacted CARE before I left and they said they could help me.

Maryam and her children are now living in an urban Turkish area. She says:

CARE’s support really helped us. It made us feel that we had a place here, in Islahiye, and in society and the community. A home to live in and some things to wear.

It is a good place to live. My neighbours are Turkish. They like us, and this is a really good thing for us. It makes us feel so welcome.

Yesterday, a CARE Case Worker came and the neighbours came and we all drank tea together. The community cares for us, and it’s a really very good thing. It’s a really good feeling for me and that’s what my neighbours have done for me.

Through CARE’s support, Maryam and her family have been registered for Emergency Social Safety Net, which has enabled her to meet some of her basic needs. CARE Turkey’s Case Management team has supported her to set up her new home and also referred her to an NGO which specialises in psychological support, and provided her with funds for transportation to enable her attendance.

With the generous support of the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), CARE’s Case Management team is able to provide individualised protection support to families like Maryam’s. CARE’s Case Management approach in Turkey is a collaborative, client-focused approach aimed at empowering and working together with clients to effectively address their needs and achieve their goals. Through the continuous support of ECHO, since late 2014 to the end of February 2019, CARE in Turkey has been able to reach 2478 individuals in Turkey, 551 in Islahiye, with case management and individualised protection assistance.

Another ECHO-funded project in Turkey also aims to support Syrian refugees to take the lead in building and maintaining decent lives in Turkey. Louay Hajali, CARE Turkey’s Protection and Outreach Coordinator, explains:

We train people from within a community, and give them information useful to the community, and they then go out into their own community to share the information. It means we can reach many people, far more than if we just ran sessions themselves. It’s also about the community helping itself, educating itself. We are enabling and assisting that process.

CARE has recruited and trained 245 people as Community Activators, through them reaching over 12,000 people between April 2017 and February 2019. The Community Activators receive training on specific aspects of life in Turkey and the challenges Syrian people may face, including Turkish law, family planning, child marriage, child labour, safe motherhood and psycho-social care. They are also trainined on methods of delivering the information they receive to people in their own communities, from one-on-one or family sessions in homes, to public video and drama presentations. Hajali says:

It empowers people by training them on this information, and how to deliver it effectively, giving them a role in which they can help people who are going through what they have been through, and by giving the whole community information they can use in their own lives, and helping them improve their situations.

CARE is pleased to be continuing this partnership with ECHO until 2021.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.