A career hope for Syrian woman with Turkish classes

Berra Yunis with her children at the community center in Ankara. (AA Photo)

Motherhood led a Syrian migrant woman in Turkey's capital to learn Turkish to help her school-going children with their lessons. Now she is planning to enroll in a university to become an interpreter. Berra Yunis and her family were forced to leave Syria five years ago due to escalating tensions in the region. They moved to Turkey for a fresh start. It was not possible for her to attend a Turkish language course back then with her newborn daughter and a 3-year-old son, but as they grew older they needed help with their lessons.

It was then she started attending a beginner level Turkish language course to help her children. The course raised her hopes of attending university. "It is very important that my children receive an education. I want my son to be a doctor and my daughter to be a teacher," Yunis told Anadolu Agency, speaking on the occasion of International Education Day on Friday. "I have a dream to study Arabic-Turkish translation and to interpret at a university," she added.

With her determination and her husband's support, she has improved her Turkish speaking skills in a short time. "The beginner level Turkish course I started in November ends this week. Then I will start the elementary course," she said.

Yunis attends the courses at a community center funded by the European Union and the German government in collaboration with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM).

Thanking her Turkish teachers and the education system, she expressed her happiness that her children are receiving an education at school. "Some families do not send their children to school, but it is very important for children to receive an education. The life of a person without an education is very difficult," she said.

For her son Mustafa, her mother's efforts to learn Turkish are commendable. "I am really happy that my mother has been learning Turkish," he said, claiming he is the one who speaks Turkish the best in the family. "The first day I went to school, I had no friends except my uncle's son. Then I learned Turkish and made friends. I also adore my teacher because she loves me," he said.

Cansu Oba, head of the Ankara Community Center, said they have been working with refugees to improve their living conditions and their social cohesion with locals since 2016. "Approximately 1 million of the Syrian refugees in our country are school-age children. The primary way for these children not to be a lost generation is through their involvement in the education system," Oba said. He stressed that the families of these children are the most important support mechanisms in order to overcome possible adaptation problems they may have at school. "For this reason, while we implement projects for the schooling of children, we try to support families with psychosocial activities and educational activities. In this context, we try to speed up social adaptation processes with Turkish courses for adults," she added.

SGDD-ASAM was established in 1995 in Ankara as an independent, impartial and nonprofit association to assist refugees and asylum-seekers living in Turkey. It has been providing social, legal, and psychosocial support for refugees and asylum-seekers, organizing numerous courses and activities for the purposes of integrating them into social life. GIZ is a German development agency headquartered in Bonn and Eschborn that provides services in the field of international development cooperation.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Jan. 24 as International Day of Education in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.

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