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Syrian Refugees Struggling to Make Ends Meet in Turkey: Adnan and Bana’s Story

July 19, 2017

Adnan, his wife, Bana and their seven children had a comfortable life in Syria before the war. They weren’t wealthy, but they had a house and a car and they made a living by selling the produce they grew on their farm. It took them a long time to build this life, which is why they were reluctant to leave it all behind.

When the fighting grew more dangerous and bombs started to fall in their village, they made the difficult decision to leave in order to protect their children.

Adnan, Bana and their seven children.

After crossing the Syrian border into Turkey, Adnan and Bana had a very difficult time finding housing and jobs. Currently their only source of income is from Bana’s work selling cans and paper she collects from the side of the road. Adnan is suffering from a kidney condition and is unable to work. Bana makes anywhere from $1.70 to $3.45 a day, which she uses to pay their rent, about $76 a month, and the electricity, about $14-$17 a month. It is alarming that Bana’s hands have turned orange from the rusty cans she collects – and she is six months pregnant.

Adnan and Bana’s children mean everything to them. They feel incredibly guilty that this conflict has deprived their children of their education. The children had been out of school for three years because of the conflict and their daughter Rafa, 11 years old, had to start school from the beginning in Turkey because she was so far behind her peers. Bana says she will keep her kids in school, instead of having them work to support the family, no matter what the sacrifice.

She says, “If it’s a choice between money and learning for my children, I will always choose learning.”

‍International Relief Teams is working with partner organization Concern Worldwide to support an e-voucher program for Syrian refugees like Adnan and Bana 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 May 2016, your donations supported 91 households (606 people) including  329 children. 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.

The first month Adnan and Bana received their e-voucher from IRT, they bought food including tomatoes, soup, milk, rice, wheat, and bread and in the second month they bought mattresses for the family to sleep on. Bana would love to give her seven-year-old daughter, Riham her favorite food, bananas, but this is considered a special treat which the family just cannot afford right now. They can only afford the basics, and fruit is often very expensive.

Bana and Adnan hope to move back to Syria one day. In the meantime, she says:

 “[The program] gives me some hope because I can feed my children with the food I buy with this e-voucher.

Bana is also incredibly thankful to the donors who have given her this lifeline.

She says, “Thank you everyone for your help, I hope nothing like this ever happens to your country like it has to Syria.”
Adnan and his young son, showing the e-voucher card.
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