Feb 11, 2019

Advocacy and Awareness Raising is Crucial

When working to help refugee mothers and the children they raise in Turkey, how do we engage in advocacy and awareness-raising to maximize our positive impact? This is the question we’d like to answer in this quarterly report.

As the Syrian war reaches its 8th year, we acknowledge that it is more important than ever to emphasize one aspect of the Syrian refugee response – no lost generation! This is a sentiment we support along with many other humanitarian organizations and service providers in the field, mostly in the context of school-aged children that have difficulties accessing education services.

8 years is a long time. Consider this; a child who was 5 when their parents crossed the border is now 13. That’s high school age.

It is often that we encounter children who, for one reason or the other, are unable to continue or even start school in Turkey. Sometimes this is due to the language barrier. Sometimes the reasons have to do with registration processes (which may get easily complicated when families are changing cities or even neighborhoods). Or sometimes the child is forced to support their family in ways that dissociate them from school (i.e. helping with domestic chores or even working in the informal economy).

We have an obligation not only to identify and respond to these challenges, but also make them known to public authorities and other service providers so that coordinated and complementary action can be taken. This is how we engage in ‘humanitarian diplomacy’ - the type of advocacy work through which we ‘lobby with data’. Thanks to the coordinated effort with relevant stakeholders and authorities on local and national levels, we’ve time and again been able to lift procedural or bureaucratic barriers that stand in the way of refugees’ access to basic needs and services – including those of newborn children.

In addition to advocacy work, awareness-raising among refugee communities is another crucial domain to make sure that there is no lost generation. When families are most vulnerable, they sometimes resort to what we call ‘negative coping strategies’ such as child labor or early marriages. To prevent or resolve these coping strategies, we hold information sessions that are provided both by our field teams and by the volunteer community members themselves. Typically, these information sessions fall under two categories. Firstly, we inform families of existing of their rights, duties as well as the social services made available to them. Secondly, we inform them of the long-term negative effects of the seemingly negligible decisions such as sending children to work.

Last by not the least, we’d like to finish off with the type of information material we provide to the refugee mothers that give birth in Turkey; our ‘Mother Diary’ which includes useful information about a newborn’s development. If you wish to take a look, you can access the English version in the attachment.

With your support, we’ll keep on addressing the basic needs of vulnerable communities like the Syrian refugees, and improving their resilience by carrying relevant information to relevant parties at the right time. 

Dec 12, 2018

Aliya's Family

Aliya's children with STL field-team member Selma
Aliya's children with STL field-team member Selma

On our previous report, we described how we value integrated support and respond to the needs of the Syrian community through with a needs-based methodology. In this report, we would like to give the word to Aliya, a Syrian mother who gave birth to her second child soon after she crossed the border. This is her story.

“My husband Yakup and I came to Turkey 4 years ago. We lived in Al-Darbasiyah in Syria. It’s right across the border. Once the war was practically knocking on our door, we had no choice but to cross the border.

Our life was in order back there, before the war. I used to go to school. It was our land after all. Who would want to leave their land? My family is still there – my siblings. I haven’t been able to see them since the borders are closed. I fear I will never see my family again. Sometimes we are able to speak on the phone. But they only get 2 hours of electricity each day. They tell me it got very cold and that even bread is very expensive.

Meanwhile, over here we had to deal with an entirely different set of problems. You have to get your temporary protection ID and without it, you cannot even receive medical help. We had a lot of difficulties when I was pregnant for my second child. The private hospitals were too expensive and there was no way we could afford them. I saw on social media that Support to Life is doing work on maternal health. The first time I heard of them was when I was looking for Turkish language courses – which were offered free of charge. My neighbours suggested that I should go to Support to Life’s office and explain my situation, and that could offer their help. I hadn’t been able to see a doctor during the first few months of my pregnancy. I could even die – all because I lacked the ID card.

It was very important for us to be able to get our ID cards – mine, my husband’s, my children’s. During my second pregnancy, I could have my regular checks done at the hospital. We’ve been able to register my son Valid to our family with these cards. This was very important for me. Now we are really a family.

We will be able to raise our kids in good health, in peace here. My wish back in Syria was to finish school. I really liked studying. But war broke out and I couldn’t study past high-school. Now I am the mother of two kids. This is why my first wish is to raise them in peace properly and send them to school.”

-Aliya, March 2018 (Mardin – Turkey)

Nov 15, 2018

Support to Life Believes in Integrated Support

Support to Life continues to provide 10th month packs to refugee mother that are about to give birth or has given birth recently. While Support to Life’s field teams and its outreach campaigns are instrumental reaching out and becoming known to those in need, Support to Life Hubs are also open to consultation by those who need our support.

We would like to begin our report with a piece of exciting news: Thanks to the humanitarians worldwide and our donor institutions, our team is now 300 large and our protection activities are once again geared up for evidence-driven, sustainable, integrated support!

Speaking of which, let us use this opportunity to explain how we provide integrated support to those that receive our 10th month care packs – after all, a 10th month pack is simply one link for a child’s healthy development.

When we identify a refugee mother who has given birth, we conduct a needs assessment that looks not only into basic demographic data such as the household’s income, number of children, senior members; but also predicts a food consumption index through questionnaires. Furthermore, if there are other children at school age, we make sure to provide assistance in getting them enrolled to schools. Unfortunately, child labor is what we call ‘a negative coping strategy’ – it helps the family secure a livelihood while depriving a child of its right to a healthy development.

That said, our integrated support does not end there. We invite family members to information sessions that we regularly hold in our community centers. Topics range from childcare, hazards of child labor, gender-based violence, and similar. Our aim is to make sure that all family members are well quipped to join hands and raise a healthy individual.

Each time we hand over a 10th month pack to someone in need, we also have an invaluable opportunity to deliver integrated support. Thanks to your support, we do not need to worry about the additional costs that are associated, and we can focus on the family’s utmost benefit.

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