What does Mohammad remember from Syria? A bomb killing people in his neighborhood. He now lives as a refugee in Turkey and wants to become a doctor so he can heal sick people.
“Once, I remember seeing a big bomb kill some people in my neighborhood. It came from an airplane and was very big. I was very afraid. People were playing on the street and some were on their way to the market when it happened. Afterwards an ambulance came.” 10-year-old Mohammad have been living four years now in Turkey, but still have memories of the last times in his hometown Aleppo in Syria.
“I was also afraid in the beginning here in Turkey. Most of all, I just felt afraid. But slowly life became easier. Also, because we got the same neighbors here in Istanbul as we had in Aleppo. Then my life did not feel so different after all,” he says.
“Now life is kind of easy”
Mohammad is attending a Community Center in Istanbul run by the Turkish Red Crescent Society and supported by EU. Among many different services, the center has English classes and psychosocial support through child friendly activities. This has made a big difference for Mohammad.
“Before the situation was very difficult, because I could not speak any Turkish or even ask about anything at the market. But now it is kind of easy, because I have learned to speak in Turkish – so well that I am the best in my class,” he says and continues: “The first word, I learned in Turkish, was ‘hızlan, çabuk’, meaning fast or quicker. I learned it from my father. My whole family is saying this to me all the time. They do not want me to be late.”
Want to stay with his friends
He likes best the most difficult words in Turkish, for example ‘sevimli’ which means ‘nice’ or ‘lovely’. The nicest person he knows is the former teacher at the Community Center that taught him Turkish so well.
Mohammad’s favorite hobby is playing football and drawing. And despite his good Turkish skills, this is still the most challenging subject in school for him. In the future, he would like to be a doctor.
“So, I can heal people that are sick, and so they can be happy every day,” he says.
And does he want to go back to Syria or stay in Turkey? “Stay here,” he smiles, “Because my friends, teachers and school is here, and I do not want to miss them as much as I have missed my friends and my school in Syria.”
About the community centers in Turkey
In Cooperation with the Turkish Red Crescent the German Red Cross is helping Syrian refugees in Turkey. In a total of three community centers, the Red Cross supports the refugees with services such as language and craft courses or computer training. The refugees also receive psychosocial support. The community centers are financed with the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Photos: John Engedal Nissen/ DRC, Ibrahim Malla / IFRK