The journey to safety from Ayn Al Arab for a family of 7 children including a new-born

22 October 2014, Hamide, who is 36 years old and a mother of 7 children, tells us, “I can’t describe my feelings, my 6 children became refugees, but my 7th child was born as a refugee… I would do anything to change what is happening now, but what can I do other than praying”.

Together with the children and her 38-year-old husband Mustafa Seyfo, Hamide fled Ayn Al Arab (also known as Kobane) on 21 September with the few little belongings they could carry and walked for 7 hours to safety on a dusty, rough road to cross the Turkish border into Suruç. While there were thousands of other Syrians who were driven so suddenly and violently from their homes in fear for their lives, Hamide was highly pregnant, making the story of her flight so remarkable; this mother of 4 daughters and 2 boys gave birth a week after crossing the border to a baby boy.

Soon after arriving in Suruç on the 21st, the family embarked on another journey to Adana, a province in southern Turkey, hoping to find a place to live and also work for Mustafa Seyfo. After a long journey where they sometimes hitchhiked and sometimes took buses for some distance to the extent their savings allowed, they finally arrived in Adana. After staying 5 days in Adana and coming to the realization that they would not be able to find jobs so easily, they went back to Suruç. Hamide’s pregnancy was forcing them to be quick. Having left their lives and belongings behind in Ayn Al Arab and with savings very fast drying up, just like many others, they approached the authorities to ask for accommodation. Hamide and her family were sent to YIBO boarding school in Onbirnisan in Suruç, which had been serving as a shelter for Syrians since the outset of the recent influx, when her pregnancy advanced into the last stages. The day after they arrived in Suruç, on early 29 September, Hamide gave birth to her third son in Suruç State Hospital. As she was traumatized after what she had gone through in a particularly vulnerable state, she was not able to breast-feed and the family could only feed the baby with water and the baby formula given by the authorities.

When we were speaking to Hamide, she told us her husband Mustafa Seyfo risked his life by crossing the barbed wire on the border and a mine field to return to Ayn Al Arab and to take some of the belongings they had left behind. She said “we want to go back to our home, but meanwhile we need everything to live!”. Hamide and her family don’t have any relatives and friends in Turkey, contrary to many Syrians taking shelter in Turkey with the latest influx. When UNHCR staff last spoke to Hamide, staying in YIBO with her seven children, she told that Mustafa Seyfo had not yet returned. “I wish my husband comes soon, I am worried so much, now we are safe here… but I don’t’ know how he is…”