Mayar (6) and Meral’s (4) father Sharif explains why they fled their home in Syria in 2014:
“We were living in Salamiyah where there were bombs and kidnappings happening all the time. There was a car bomb explosion in January 2013 that partially damaged our house. My son (Mayar) has been traumatized since that day. He gets scared whenever he sees policemen or airplanes. My friends and I were peaceful against the militants. I was working with a group to help spread the word of names of people the militants wanted to arrest. My friends were arrested and tortured. I was scared for my life especially when I was asked to join the militants. I refused, telling them I wanted to live in peace. I started to receive threats. I got many phone calls from people who said they were going to hurt me and my family. I paid someone to help me and my family escape to Lebanon. From there, we traveled to Istanbul.”
Sharif completed up to his fourth year of university where he studied electric engineering. In Syria he worked for an electric company. Sharif can also speak Arabic and English. These skills allowed him to find a great job in sales and management at a tourism company in Istanbul. He held this position for a year and a half until the tourism industry crashed in Turkey. He then found work as a journalist for an Istanbul newspaper for six months. At this time Sharif is in desperate need of a heart surgery. He has three arteries that are closed which have caused his left hand to be partially paralyzed which caused him to be denied employment. There is a six month recovery period after the surgery and Sharif is worried he will not be able to support his family during this time.
Mayar is in the first grade at a Turkish school in Capa. He likes to collect and build things – inventing new things from what he finds. His sister Meral is not old enough to attend school, but likes to draw and play. At this time the family is in need of medical assistance for Sharif, and assistance with their rent and bills.