Far from home, refugee family finds they’re not alone

Syria, Turkey, November 28, 2016

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  • After fleeing the war in Syria, Fediya and her family, including her husband, Feras, and two youngest children, Sehed, 7, and Tesnim, 11, took refuge in Turkey. Mercy Corps has supported them with hygiene supplies and a cash card to buy food and other items. All photos: Elif Isik/Mercy Corps

Fediya and her family stayed in Syria as long as they could. The food and other assistance they received from Mercy Corps helped them survive inside the country’s borders, and Fediya’s husband, Feras, even volunteered with the distributions to make sure the same support reached others in their community.

But as war raged on and the bombings moved closer to their home, Fediya and Feras made a hard decision: It was time to flee.

Like millions of Syrians before them, Feras and Fediya escaped to Turkey, where they live now with their four children. With no stability and no home to return to, the family is stuck in limbo. Their daughter, Tesnim, dreams of returning to Syria, while their other children long to return to school — an impossible wish for now.

More than 11 million Syrians have fled their country during more than five years of war. Over 2 million of them ended up in Turkey, stuck between their past and future.

Most Syrian refugee children can’t go to school in Turkey, while their families can’t access basic services in the country. They survive in near-unlivable conditions and aren't able — or allowed — to take jobs to earn an income.

Meanwhile, they are trying to cope with the despair, isolation and psychological impacts of war. Many of them left their friends, colleagues, families, jobs and schools behind.

For Fediya and Feras, the loss was even greater. Leaving Syria meant parting with what had become a lifeline: the humanitarian assistance they were receiving from Mercy Corps.

In these difficult conditions, Fediya was starting to lose hope.

But Mercy Corps is shoulder to shoulder with refugees in Turkey, too, helping them improve their lives and see a better future.

During one of Mercy Corps’ routine outreach activities, the team knocked on Fediya’s door. When she recognized who had found her, she began to cry.

With tears in her eyes, Fediya hugged the Mercy Corps staff and told them how happy she was to see them again.

The team listened to her story and learned how Mercy Corps had assisted her family in Syria, quickly realizing they could now offer Fediya’s family the same helping hand they needed in Turkey, more than a thousand miles from where Mercy Corps first met them.

“I was so happy after Mercy Corps registered us and left,” Fediya says. “I directly called my husband and told him what happened. I started to dance in the house. I will never forget that happiness. It felt so good to know that Mercy Corps didn’t leave us alone even in another country.”

After Mercy Corps identified the families’ urgent needs, the team came back to their house and distributed hygiene kits and a cash card to the family.

“It’s been almost two years since we came to Turkey,” Feras says, “and this is the first time that we feel like we live humanely.”

So far we’ve provided over 15,000 refugees in Turkey, like Fediya, Feras and their children, with cash cards, hygiene kits, clothing, safe spaces and activities to help them adapt to their new communities.

And every day we’re working to reach more vulnerable families — here and throughout the region — who need us.

How you can help

  • Donate today. Every single contribution helps us provide even more food, water, shelter and support to Syrian families and families in crisis around the world.

  • Tell your friends. Share this story and spread the word about the millions of people who need us.

  • Sign our petition. Tell Congress: Support lifesaving humanitarian assistance that helps refugees and displaced people.
  • Start a campaign. You can turn knowledge into action by setting up a personal fundraising page and asking your friends and family to contribute to our efforts to help refugees fleeing crisis and conflict.