Yememe El Jasim managed to save her children as a bomb destroyed their home and took her husband’s leg in Syria. The family of seven are now carving a new life for themselves in Turkey.

By Caroline Haga, IFRC

“Before we visited this centre, no one helped me to support my family.”

“Now our life is much better – we’ve received a cash assistance card and my children are in the process of getting to school,” says Yememe El Jasim as she attends a sewing course at the Red Crescent community centre in Istanbul.

35-year-old El Jasim, her husband Abdulkadir Suleiman, 38, and their five children from 6 to 12 years have now lived in Istanbul for six months. The memories of why they had to flee are still haunting El Jasim.

“We were all in our home when drones came and dropped a bomb on our apartment building,” she says wiping away tears.

“Our house was completely  destroyed and I had to dig out my children from underneath the rubble.”

“I’m eternally grateful that I managed to save them even if my husband lost his leg.”

Struggling to make ends meet

El Jasim’s sole focus now is to make life better for her family. Although her husband, a former marketing professional, has managed to find a job in textiles, the family struggles to make ends meet. They have been forced to allow her eldest daughter, 12-year-old Hazar, to work – something El Jasim never thought would happen.

“In Syria, we did everything to support our children. Here she has to work at the moment so that we can pay our rent and medical fees.”

“Before we visited this centre, no one helped me to support my family. Now our life is much better – we’ve received a cash assistance card and my children are in the process of getting to school.” – Yememe El Jasim.

“But I’m doing everything I can to make sure that all of my children can go to school and get a good education. That is the only way to fight child labour,” El Jasim says determinedly.

“If I have any problems, I come to the centre”

El Jasim says that finding the Turkish Red Crescent’s community centre in her neighbourhood recently has already made a big difference in her family’s life.

They’ve received assistance in applying for the cash assistance programme, in setting up her husband’s medical appointments and transportations to the hospital, and, not least, in registering her children for school. The two youngest boys are already attending and El Jasim hopes that her three daughters will be enrolled very soon as the family now gets monthly monetary assistance. The children are also taking Turkish language classes and participating in other activities at the centre.

“If I have any problems, I come here because they listen to me and always try to help me solve them,” El Jasim says.

“My eldest daughter even dreams of becoming an Arabic-Turkish translator so that she can work for the Turkish Red Crescent and proudly wear the insignia.”

The Turkish Red Crescent Bağcılar community centre was established with the financial support from the EU’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO).