The Pursuit of Education
Amer has always loved studying.
Even when civil war erupted in his home country of Syria, Amer and his siblings continued to attend school every day despite the calamities of the battle all around them.
But the relentless fighting eventually led to schools in the besieged city of Deir ez-Zor shutting down. Shortly afterwards ISIL came knocking on their door – looking to recruit Amer and his older brother Abdoul to fight for their cause. The family were left with no choice but to flee.
After a horrific four days trapped in the desert with no shelter they made it to Turkey, and sought refuge in the Southern Turkish city of Nizip.
As so many Syrians before them they had lost everything – but it was access to education that Amer missed the most.
It was in Nizip that International Medical Corps’ Health and Hygiene Promotion team met the family for the first time.
Khadija, a member of the Health and Hygiene Promotion team, said: ‘’I was surprised when I first met them, because Amer’s mother is really determined that her children get a good education. Normally for Syrian families in such a situation, the loss of education is not the biggest issue.’’
It is Amer’s mother who has instilled in her children the passion to study. Due to her family’s financial circumstances, she had dropped out of high school to join her father in working in a cotton factory, her hopes of becoming a nurse cut short.
Amer himself, now a young adult of 18, speaks shyly about his passion to study.
“I am currently taking Turkish classes at the social centre and have already passed to the second level. I also go to half-day classes for Syrians at a Turkish school.”
As his family barely make ends meet, Amer walks 45 minutes each way to attend the classes while his older brother Abdoul works at a furniture shop to help support them all.
Amer’s mother is unable to work – her youngest son Hassan suffers from a speech impediment and memory loss. “I want to work to support my family”, she says, “so that Abdoul can continue his studies, but the working conditions here are bad. I would be working 12 hours a day - who would cook for the family and look after Hassan?’’
With the help of International Medical Corps, she is schooling Hassan at home and the young boy is now getting better at concentrating on his schooling and becoming more socially active.
To support the family International Medical Corps’ Health and Hygiene Promotion team encouraged Amer’s mother to go to the social centre it supports in Nizip with funding from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. In this centre she attends vocational training courses such as hairdressing, knitting and Turkish language courses, and has even sold some items that she has made with training from the centre to neighbours to support her family.
Although there is still a long way to go, Amer’s mother has not given up hope of a good future for Amer and his siblings.
*Names have been changed on the request of those featured in this post