By Gökhan Tımurhan, Turkish Red Crescent

Maria Huseyin, 37 and her ten-year-old son Ayham are regular visitors at the Turkish Red Crescent community centre in Ankara these days. Huseyin said that the life of her family, made up of her husband, four children and their grandparents, has significantly improved since they first visited the centre after the trauma of leaving Syria.

“We were trapped in the house with my disabled son Ayham,” she explained.

“After we visited the community centre, my three other children were registered for school with the help of the staff.  We also got a medical certificate for Ayham and he is now being helped by social services.”

The community centre provides a sanctuary for children and adults who have been forced to flee conflict in Syria. They offer Turkish language lessons, courses like hairdressing and sewing, psychological support and therapy sessions, children’s activities, information about rights and benefits and referrals to health services.

Husayin and her husband, a blacksmith, are happy to be able to take better care of their son Ayham, who is unable to speak. She has started to teach him about colours.

Huseyin said: “My only dream is to see Ayham talk. He has not even been able to say his name.

“As a result of the training we received from the social workers at the centre, I’m trying to teach him about colours and play with him more.”

More than 73,000 people have been supported by the Red Crescent’s network of seven community centres in Sanliurfa, Konya, Ankara, İstanbul, Kilis and Bursa. To respond to the increasing needs of the more than 2.8 million people who have fled Syria to Turkey, the Red Crescent is planning to open a further nine centres.

Ankara Community Centre, Turkey, 10 February 2017. Some twenty young men and women are sitting around tables in a colourful room immersed in their text books. The group has gathered for one of the weekly Turkish language classes offered by a trained teacher at the Ankara community centre. Language skills offer an important bridge for integrating into the Turkish society and making local friends. Photo: Neriman Kahveci/Turkish Red Crescent

Cash support to help care

Huseyin is hoping for a better future for her children now the family is in Turkey.

“I want to offer my children a better life than the one I have lived and to make sure that they have a good education in the future,” she said.

With the help of the centre, the children have been enrolled in school and Huseyin’s family now receives monthly benefits to help them take care of Ayham. They also receive cash for food through the pre-loaded Red Crescent cash card scheme.

“Our life is better now,” Huseyin said.