“I am able to Ease the Troubles of My Children with Disabilities Thanks to the C-ESSN Assistance”
“Complementary Emergency Social Safety Net (C-ESSN)” Project, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Ministry of Family and Social Services in cooperation with Türk Kızılay has come out as a bridge of aid between life and foreign nationals in our country who are lack of access to livelihood assets.
The Serenak family, one of the C-ESSN beneficiaries, welcomed us at their home in Kahramanmaraş and shared their story of seeking asylum in Turkey after they had to leave Aleppo 10 years ago with their 3 children with disabilities and 2 babies.
“We were stuck among four walls”
The father, Ahmed Serenak (47), says their home used to be in Rakka in 2012, those days were “just like hell” and further tells the following:
“There was hardly ever a day without bombing. In their effort to survive, people were trying to reach the borders by a car that they could find or on foot. In fact, only 2 families were left in our neighborhood which used to be a very populated one. It was impossible for us to move. We had 3 children on their 14, 12 and 8 with intellectual disabilities and our last child was just born 2 months ago. We were stuck among four walls shaken with the sound of bombings.”
“A Man I Never Knew Saved My Family”
The Serenak family was able to get out of their home, which was bombed shortly after their escape, with the help of a Syrian man whom they did not know at the time, and who was trying to reach Turkey. Mr. Serenak almost goes back to those days as he tells us:
“This young man, whom I will always remember with gratitude, learned from the conversations around that we were stuck at home. He knocked on our door in all the turmoil and said, 'I'm going to the border, come right away'. My wife and I just looked at each other for a moment and said, 'Maybe the children will be treated too'. There was no time to think anyway, planes were flying overhead. We carried my children on our backs to the car. At that moment, we left everything behind; our house, our belongings, our memories... We didn't even have our identity cards with us when we set off.”
“We Could Sleep in Peace when we arrived Türkiye”
Another memory which Ahmed says he will never forget about their first nights in Turkey is that the Turkish police shared their dinner with them offering to break-fast together as it was the month of Ramadan when they arrived and gave them fresh clothes after.
The family spent that night in one of the 100 tents set up that very evening for those who came from Syria like themselves. In the following days, they were protected by heaters and blankets in the stadium on Nur Mountains as they waited for the completion of Islahiye Tent City. Ahmet recalls those days saying “Of course it was a very difficult time. But believe me, because we knew that we would not be bombed and that we were in Türkiye, we were falling asleep without fear, even peacefully,"
The Serenak family lived in Islahiye Tent City for 7 years. Ahmed recalls their life in a tent with happy memories:
“May Allah be pleased with them; the Turks have always embraced us."
“My Son Didn't Know How to Open a Door”
The closure of Tent Cities in 2018, stood out for the beginning of the Serenaks’ re-adjustment to the city life. Ahmet says “It sounds weird when you say it, but we all had a hard time going from tent to apartment. It took time, especially for our children, to get used to the life outside. Especially my son Muhammed, kept bowing his head as if he might hit a tent pole while passing through the gates for a long time, everything related to city life; the sounds, buildings, objects surprised him. This boy learned how to open a door at the age of 5. But life has already taught us how to adapt to changing conditions”
“I Pray for Everyone Who Provides C-ESSN Assistance to Us”
The Serenak family heard about KIZILAYKART from the families around them when they started their new life in the city, and their applications were accepted immediately. With this support and the daily jobs Ahmed could find in construction, he was able to pay the rent and food expenses. However, in order to compensate for the worsening living conditions, Mr. Serenak also took jobs that required him to carry heavy loads, and eventually, he suffered from a herniated disc that would not allow him to work. Mr. Serenak says, “It was just those days when my family was provided with this aid by the C-ESSN Project. Thanks to the C-ESSN aid, we can pay our rent, electricity and water bills, and have food for ourselves. Best of all, with the money left over from basic needs, I can buy diapers for my 3 children with disabilities as well as necessary medicines that relieve their distress. What else could I ask for as a father? I'm praying for everyone who delivers C-ESSN aid to us. My heart and prayers will always be with Türkiye.”