From Syria, meet Mahmoud (14). He is the oldest of five children living with his parents in Istanbul. The extended family group comprises eleven people, including eight children and two women who are pregnant, all living in two dilapidated, cold rooms. In addition to being cold and small, their building is infested with rats and scorpions, their roof leaks and their floors have holes. There is a third room which cannot be used because of the dampness. Rent is about $140 USD per month but Mahmoud’s father barely earns $300 per month. With limited resources they are forced to decide between paying for food or fuel for heating and utilities. They receive no assistance from any government or non-government agency though they are registered with the UNHCR and can access health services. Mahmoud’s father was an electrician in Aleppo but because of language problems he now works as a removalist, he is the only wage earner in the family.
The family is seriously considering sending Mahmoud to work in a factory. They would like for him to stay in school but are forced to make difficult decisions for the benefit of the family as a whole.