By Zeynep Tuğrul Özel, Turkish Red Crescent
Dreams and fears of the three million Syrian people in Turkey differ from those who have never experienced a war before. The deepest fear is to see an aircraft in the sky, while parents’ greatest wish for their children is that they never have to hear a bomb again.
Shik Mohammed’s family is one of the 600,000 families who escaped to Turkey. They are living in a two-room house in the border town Gaziantep. “Whenever I see an aircraft, it scares me because I think it will bomb us,” said 10-year-old Hussein Shik Mohammed. “I know that bad times are over. My father told me that people in Turkey use planes only to go to work or on holiday.” Hussein’s eight-year-old sister Marwa changes the subject by saying: “Here is everything new now. Look at this shiny red card, it is also new and mother buys food, toys and dresses with it”.
What Marwa calls the “shiny red card” is the “Kizilaykart” – a pre-loaded cash card provided by the Turkish Red Crescent for asylum seekers and refugees. Since its launch last November, 500,000 people have received the card as part of an initiative funded by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Meeting the family’s basic needs
Each family member eligible for the cash support scheme is receiving a monthly payment of 100 Turkish lira (25 Euros) via the card. People can buy whatever they need most with the card – whether it is food, rent, school fees or mobile phone costs. The mother Amina tells the story of how Kizilaykart helped during one of the hardest part of their life. “Shortly after the bombing of Aleppo, we walked to the border with three kids. My husband Haleed started to work in a craft shoe shop but suddenly got sick and the doctor told him he could not carry on working.”
“We couldn’t pay our rent for months and I fed my kids only with dry food. During this desperate time, we learned that our Kizilaykart application had been accepted. I cannot explain how happy we were after I paid the rent.”
Haleed and Amina can now shop in a grocery store they could not bear to walk past before because they had to say no to everything that their kids wanted. “I am very happy to go shopping with my kids as all mothers do,” said Amina.
“They feel on the top of the world when I buy just a little pink hairclip or a small ball. Their happiness is my happiness.”