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Press Centre (8/2016)

Cash Assitance For Starting a New Life


Osman and Neda are proud of their children's achievements at school. All photo credits: © UNICEF Turkey/2016/Barkan
IZMIR, 26 July 2016 – His eyes beaming with pride, Osman tells us his children are doing very well at school even though the family had to start a new life far from home. “They all passed with high honours last semester!” he exclaims cheerfully. 

We met Osman Hassun and his family at UNICEF’s Child Protection Support Centre (CPSC) in Alsancak, İzmir. Run by the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM), it is one of 5 such centres UNICEF has established across Turkey. Osman is well known by both the centre staff and the families who regularly come through its doors, in his capacity as a community outreach worker since its establishment earlier this year.
 
The Hassuns are among the 4,000 families who received financial assistance and hygiene kits thanks to generous support from the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO). UNICEF and ASAM distributed 7,500 ECHO e-voucher cards in the spring of 2016, each valued at approximately $100, to cover the basic needs of vulnerable families in Izmir, Ankara, Adana, Istanbul and Kayseri. Because of his family’s size and special needs – he has 8 children and also cares for a disabled sister – Osman received 3 vouchers. With these cards in hand, vulnerable families were able to buy essential items – such as food and clothing – from pre-approved shops, allowing them to spend their meagre incomes on other critical expenses, like rent, transport and other costs related to school. 
 
The Hassuns came to Turkey from the battered city of Aleppo, in northern Syria. When the violence finally arrived at their doorstep in a working-class neighbourhood in 2013, Osman – a shoemaker – barely escaped with his wife, sister and 8 young children.
 
Osman describes the journey from Aleppo to Gaziantep as one of dread and hardship. He used up virtually all of his family’s savings to pay smugglers to help them across the border – but the smugglers abandoned them in the middle of the night, in an insecure border zone. “We had no choice,” Osman explained, “so I walked with my sister on my back and my family behind me, for almost 2 kilometres, in complete darkness. This was my only chance to offer my family and children a future. I could not go back…” 
 
Osman and his wife Neda moved the family to İzmir soon after they arrived in Turkey. Their biggest priority is to ensure that all his children receive a proper education, so they can build a better life for themselves. “I don’t care what profession they choose in the future,” said Neda. “What really matters to me is that they become educated and productive members of society and that they will not be dependent on anyone.” Osman even went back to Syria to collect documents which were required to enlist his children in Turkish public schools, narrowly escaping two mortar attacks on the way. But he says it was worth the risk in view of his children’s achievements at school.
 
Perhaps unsurprisingly given their parentage, Osman and Neda’s children are confident about their future. When we ask about their aspirations, they respond with a loud cheer and bright smiles. Juma (7) and Zuleyha (13) say they want to be police officers, so they can help and protect people in their community. Nine year old Mohammed jumps in, wanting to become an airline pilot one day so he can travel the world. Meanwhile Sultan, aged 11, plans to become a school teacher, helping children just like her teachers help her and her siblings. It is encouraging to see how the Hussans have found a positive way to deal with their current opportunities in life and that they are looking forward for their children’s sake, despite the difficult circumstances.

UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org