When refugee and migrant children flee their countries due to war, they lose much more than the roof over their heads. They often lose their access to education. And without education, they risk losing their futures.
16-year-old Mustafa came to Turkey from Aleppo four years ago with his five siblings and parents. Like 3,6 million other Syrian refugees, they fled the violence in Syria and decided to settle in Turkey. His father Neci Mahmud (45) was a merchant in Syria and his mother Emine (42) was a house-wife. His father now works at their housing compound as a janitor where he cleans the buildings and maintains the garden. He gets the rent subsidized in return.
“I had a good life in Syria. I owned a small grocery store. I was selling different vegetables depending on the season. My wife was drying peppers... I sold them there, too. I never wanted to leave my country. But then the war started... I had to take the boys out of Syria... I had to protect my family... I couldn’t lose my sons. So I brought them here.” he says.
When Mustafa first arrived in Gaziantep as a 12 year-old boy and he and his older brothers Hasan and Mahmud all found jobs at a slipper manufacturing factory. The family needed the extra income,“It was 8-9 hour work days. I sometimes would come home very late. I’d fall asleep right away.” After one year, he quit his job and decided to help his father at the compound. “I clean the upper floors, he does the lower ones. Mustafa kept talking about wanting to go back to school. I didn’t see much use in school for him. He should get an occupation instead. Then he convinced me. He said at least one of us should know how to speak to neighbours. I said fine. Go.” his father says.