Can Eminoğlu | 3 December 2021
Thirteen-year-old Syrian, Mustafa returns to school and feels enthusiastic about meeting his friends in person after more than two semesters of online education. Thanks to the contribution of the People of Japan and with the support of UNHCR and its partner AAR Japan, Mustafa and his family were able to access the medical treatment that enabled him to return to school. UNHCR’s partner helps refugees by supporting their access to available services, including registration of children to school and providing counselling. Through detailed case identification and assessment processes, the organisation also makes referrals to government services and other NGOs in accordance with individual needs.
“Schools are open again,” says Mustafa*, living with his parents and three siblings in Şanlıurfa. “I am so happy to be back in the classroom with my friends.” His family is originally from Aleppo and came to Turkey in 2014. Mustafa’s mother, Nabila* shares her son’s happiness as she thinks getting back to school motivates him, especially after more than two semesters of online education. “Socializing means a lot for children,” she says. “It means more for Mustafa as he suffers from chronic asthma and staying at home all day affected him negatively.”
The first years in Turkey were difficult for the family as Mustafa often needed to go to the hospital due to his serious medical condition, and the support received from the family’s acquaintances was not enough for Mustafa’s full recovery. “Neither our friends nor we in Şanlıurfa knew the hospital procedures. It was a real challenge to see a doctor each time,” notes Nabila. “Being unable to speak Turkish was another struggle.”
“The help came right on time. We felt valued.”
The family’s challenges ended once a neighbour informed them about the support of one of the partners of UNHCR, AAR Japan. After reaching out to the organisation’s hotline, Mustafa’s family was immediately contacted, and they booked an appointment for a detailed assessment. “The help came right on time,” Mustafa’s father, Salem* notes. “We felt valued.”
Shortly after reaching out to UNHCR’s partner, Mustafa’s family reached the available services and started receiving treatment. Thanks to this, his medical condition improved significantly in a short period of time. “The organisation provided help for getting doctor appointments, translation and obtaining prescriptions. They also donated a nebuliser which the doctor had recommended,” explains Nabila. “The device played a key role in his recovery. In the past, Mustafa could not leave home due to his breathing problems, but now he feels much better. He even started playing football with his friends, which he long dreamed of.”
In the meantime, Mustafa received treatment for the eye deviation he has had since his early childhood. With the support of AAR Japan, his parents were able to follow up Mustafa’s required medical check-ups easily, and he has donated a pair of glasses as well. “His reading and writing skills are developing each day thanks to his improving eyesight,” Mustafa’s father notes. “This reflected positively on his overall performance at school. We are delighted about this.”
Mustafa told us that the improvement of his condition allowed him to think about what he wants to be in the future. “My favourite course is English,” he concludes. “I want to be a teacher and motivate everyone to learn this language.”
*Names have been changed for protection reasons.