Friday 15 December 2017

'Fear is forever in our hearts'

Heading for class: A Syrian refugee outside his Unicef-supported school outside Gaziantep
Heading for class: A Syrian refugee outside his Unicef-supported school outside Gaziantep

The Nizip camp is home to thousands of Syrian refugees.

Situated on the verge of a busy highway and a dam, it is divided in two - tents and containers.

One of 24 such camps dotted along the border, it is a place of broken lives and broken dreams.

Mother-of-four Delal Dahinin (29) came here five years ago, fleeing the war that engulfed her home across the border in Idlib.

"We ran away from all the airstrikes and all the bombing. It was so terrifying and had got so bad that we could see no way that we would survive," she says.

"The children were really scared and they could not continue to live their lives like this.

"When we arrived, the Turkish government took us in immediately," she recounts.

Home now for her and her three daughters Nour (11), Ela (10), Hala (5) is a simple tent with a rug floor and a very basic food preparation area. Youngest Abdul (1) was one of 3,000 children born in the camp in the last five years.

She describes the flight from her homeland. "The journey was really horrible. Sometimes we were on foot, then into a car, back on foot. Towards the end, we were crossing through mud fields; it was winter and bitterly cold. I had to carry my youngest in my arms." Even the reminder of those days causes the young mother to break down briefly.

The family was also on the verge of starvation, not having eaten in days. As soon as they arrived in Nizip, they had to be taken straight to hospital.

"The children are happy and much better now," she says. Their smiles, outgoing personalities and healthy complexion are evidence of that. Along with 3,800 other children, they attend the schools funded by Unicef which are based in the camp.

She is separated from her husband, who she has not seen since before Abdul was born. She does not know where he is and he has not been in contact. "I am not receiving any support from him and I do not know where he is," she says.

She is thankful for the support of the Turkish authorities and Unicef, but would love to be able to return home and work again. That is not going to happen anytime soon.

"The situation is the same every jday back in Syria. The airstrikes and the bombing. The fear is forever in our hearts. Young children are still dying daily in the bombings."

Delal was in high school in Syria when her older brother died in an accident and she had to quit school. Now she only hopes that her own children can finish education and get good jobs. "I would really like them to study and accomplish the dream I had and see them back in Syria."

She does not want to move to western Europe and clings to the hope of one day returning home.

One can only hope the best for this family as the girls pose for a portrait from photographer Mark Condren.

As Delal's image is reflected in the broken mirror, there is hope but it will be an almighty struggle for this brave family.

Indo Review

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