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Through Amira’s Eyes: the resilience to stay strong

Amira by UNHCR
Amira, a Syrian refugee, has persevered to make a life for her family in Turkey. © UNHCR/E.Gurel

Currently there are over three million registered Syrian refugees in Turkey and refugee women represent 25 per cent of the Syrian refugee population in Turkey. With the generous support from the European Union, UNHCR is able to address specific protection needs of female-headed households like Amira’s family who are granted temporary protection by the Turkish administration. Syrians under temporary protection benefit from assistance, medical care and access to education and to the labour market. UNHCR supports Turkey in addressing the needs through a set of targeted interventions. These activities include protection monitoring,  counselling for people with specific needs, as well as legal and psycho-social assistance to people of concern and information dissemination.

Ipek Arseven Guven

By Ipek Arseven Guven, Assistant Communications and Branding Officer, UNHCR Turkey, @UNHCRTurkey

In March 2015, Amira fled her hometown in the Aleppo region, embarking on a long journey that took her and her two children to Istanbul. Amira’s resilience  allowed her to stay strong for the well-being and future of her two children, Nour 11, and Rashad, 4.

For the first six months, they slept on one single wool blanket they used as a mattress. “The three of us used to sleep on the blanket, using the very few clothes we had as pillows and covers,” says Amira, thinking back to those particularly difficult days. During those times, she would hear about irregular ways of moving onward out of Turkey, and everybody she knew, with whom she made the journey from Syria to Istanbul had left. But Amira did not consider leaving Turkey. She says it was too dangerous with two small children and she did not want to expose them to the risks.

Amira by UNHCR

Amira is determined for her children to attend and complete school. © UNHCR/E.Gurel

Since those difficult days, Amira has persevered to provide a home for her children in Turkey.  Her daughter Nour is attending school and is currently in 5th grade. Her favourite topic is Arabic grammar and literature. Amira wants her to become a doctor and she says she is determined to send Nour to school no matter what. Amira explains that Nour approached her one day asking  whether she would have to drop out from school to work. Amira reassured Nour that she will continue to go to school and said, “I will do all that I can to make sure you get the education you need."

Her son Rashad is still too young but when the time comes, Amira is determined that he will go to school too. Despite all the hardship she and her children endured, Amira is full of hope; she is on friendly terms with her Turkish neighbours and she is learning Turkish as a way to integrate in her new community.

UNHCR has been helping Amira by providing regular counselling in terms of access to rights, entitlements, and basic services as well as psycho-social support through its partner. Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD – ASAM). This assistance is of vital importance in supporting strong refugee women like Amira, a single mother who struggles to stay resilient and to build a future for her children.