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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

“I would do anything to support my children’s education”

Aliye and Sewsen are both mothers and refugees who fled from Syria in search of a safer future.

They faced similar difficulties when arriving in Türkiye, one above all being the language barrier.

Thanks to EU humanitarian funding, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) together with its local partner Mavi Kalem helped their families overcome the struggles they encountered building a new life.

Mavi Kalem’s centre in Istanbul offers psychosocial support to refugees, with diverse activities for adults and education support for children.

Photo of Aliye standing outside.
Aliye, 31, arrived in Türkiye 8 years ago to protect her children from the war in Syria. Her family faced many difficulties, but after meeting the Mavi Kalem’s team 6 years ago, they were able to get the support they needed.
© European Union, 2023 (photographer: Begum Iman)
2 women in a room, one in front of a colourful painting.
Through the years, Mavi Kalem’s centre has been a constant support: they received food assistance and tablets, so their children could continue their education during the pandemic. Both Aliye and her husband participated in the centre’s activities.
© European Union, 2023 (photographer: Begum Iman)
A girl sitting at a table making a painting with flowers and stars.
Mavi Kalem’s centre is a safe haven for the whole family: “The services provided by Mavi Kalem are excellent. We love coming here. It is relaxing. My children keep asking me when they can come here to attend the activities.”
© European Union, 2023 (photographer: Begum Iman)
Several women making a painting on a canvas.
Aliye’s priority is her children’s education. Her husband suggested finding a job for their oldest son to help with the costs, but she strongly opposed this: “I wouldn’t let him compromise his education, and I will support it as much as I can.”
© European Union, 2023 (photographer: Begum Iman)
Photo of Sewsen in front of the centre.
Sewsen, 43, from Aleppo, first fled to Lebanon and then arrived in Türkiye, where she got married and had 2 children. She came alone, and her family members are scattered around the world.
© European Union, 2023 (photographer: Begum Iman)
Sewsen surrounded by other women in the centre.
“I take my son to school and take care of my children and house. My life is pretty much about it.” Mavi Kalem’s centre helped Sewsen to engage with other women.
© European Union, 2023 (photographer: Begum Iman)
Sewsen making a painting while standing at a table.
It was her husband who suggested her to participate in activities after he attended one on women’s rights and empowerment.
© European Union, 2023 (photographer: Begum Iman)
Detail of the painting, some colourful circles and a blue shape of a house.
This painting activity took her back to the times she was doing handicraft in the yard of her house in Syria. “I miss doing that and I miss my country. I drew a house and a plane because I want to travel. I also want to learn Turkish.”
© European Union, 2023 (photographer: Begum Iman)
View of the painting and paint jars on the table, in the background a group of women.
She sacrificed learning Turkish to take care of her family. Her priorities are clear: “I would do anything for my children to have a good education. My wish is a safe home and enough income to support their education.”
© European Union, 2023 (photographer: Begum Iman)
  • Photo of Beatrice Molinari and Begum Iman

    Story by Beatrice Molinari and Begum Iman, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.


    Publication date: 14/11/2023