Akfen Holding Chairman Hamdi Akın has opened some of his houses to Syrian refugees in Istanbul after he saw the heart-wrenching image of Alan Kurdi, a 3-year old refugee who drowned off Turkey’s Bodrum coast on Sept. 2.
“It was so miserable to witness how bad conditions the Syrian refugees were in Bodrum’s streets this summer. After we saw Alan’s dead body drowned off the coast, we decided to open our houses to Syrian refugees. We wanted to do something for them. They need to be taken from the streets and integrated into society. Everybody should do something for this. We applied to the Migration Directorate of Istanbul around 20 days ago to reach Syrian families who are in need of shelter. We then allocated a total of six of our houses to these families. There are thousands of summer houses especially in the districts of Silivri and Çatalca, which are empty almost eight months of the year. Their owners can open their houses to Syrian refugees” he said.
The families were chosen by authorities from among families that are registered and who have been given security clearance. Some of them are journalists, engineers and artists that cannot conduct their professions in Turkey.
“My biggest dream is to have a dinner with my family on the Bosphorus. We could make it if I could do my own profession” said 50-year old Muhammed, who fled from Syria three years ago. He is an electrical engineer but has not been able to work as an engineer in Turkey.
Halid Seyid, a journalist, has been working at a furniture store in Istanbul for the last 18 months as he cannot work in his own sector.
“I am so sorry because I cannot do my job. All of my close relatives fled to Jordan after the civil war erupted in my country. They told me not to go to Jordan, but to Turkey. I found a job in a furniture store in Istanbul and I really like my employer, as he is very nice to me. He pays me regularly, although my wage is low” he said.
Ali, a 35-year old craftsman from Aleppo, noted that Istanbul is very expensive for anyone who does not have work.
“I found a job easily in line with my specialization area, but it is quite difficult for me to send all four of my children to school here. A majority of Syrians try to go to Europe so that their children can be educated well, but many of them unfortunately can’t make it and some of them even drown at sea,” he said.