Picture taken by the Ferhad, showing his two children with new toys they could afford due the financial assistance provided by Welthungerhilfe. Mardin, Turkey, April 2020
Here is the story of Ferhad, a 28-year young father of three, until not so long ago:
Like millions of people worldwide, the Corona pandemic has a huge impact on Ferhad and his family when the virus hit Turkey and changed everything. The young family has already faced many challenges in their life: the war in Syria, the flight to Turkey, poverty, consequences of being a refugee and sickness.
Only a few months ago, Ferhad had to struggle with a serious sickness that made it impossible for him to work for the last three months. But Ferhad fought against the sickness, and finally, when he recovered, he was able to find work in a restaurant.
“I was very happy when I told my wife that we can take care of ourselves from now on”
However, the next setback wasn’t far away. Only one week later in his new workplace the corona virus reached Turkey with all its consequences.
Turkey officially declared the first case of COVID-19 on 11 March 2020. In Early January and February, Turkey adopted the first containment measures including closing its borders. Further, the Government of Turkey closed all education institutions, nonessential businesses, and imposed strict movement restrictions.
Moreover, as of 10 April 2020, a complete lockdown of 30 provinces was also declared including the province of Mardin, where Ferhad and his family live.
The restaurant where Ferhad worked had to close, like many other shops, restaurants and factories. He lost his job and is now in the same dire situation he was in a week before he was hired.
The loss of income opportunities due to the closure of non-essential businesses and physical distancing measures will push many vulnerable Syrian households, like Ferhad’s, even deeper into poverty.
Ferhad’s disappointment is indescribable. For him, it feels as he has lost all hope and perspective again after months of struggle to return to an independent life. When you look into Ferhad’s eyes and hear his voice, you can see the deep sadness he feels knowing he cannot feed his children and take care of his family.
“I cannot afford even one meal a day”, he said with a breaking voice.
The little food he had in the house; he gave it to his children. “My wife and I were so hungry that we went to bed with stomach cramps every time,” Ferhad recalled.
“Due to the lockdowns and curfews, our economic situation worsened. My children were crying for food and toys and would sometimes argue with each other for no reason. I couldn’t explain what was going on, they are kids they can’t understand,” Ferhad explained.
The fact that people have stay at home, whether they have someone supporting them or not, became a common and serious problem for many Syrian refugees in town of Mardin.
Ferhad reached out to Welthungerhilfe via the hotline number he had received from a neighbor. Initially, Ferhad asked for translation support to be able to talk with the doctors when he needs to the hospital with his child.
Later, when the decision was made to put down the city of Mardin under lockdown, Ferhad's family was identified as one of the most vulnerable families, as he had been without income for a long time and could not continue the work he had just found.
Now through the assistance of Welthungerhilfe, which was made possible by the financial support from EU through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Ferhad and his family will now not have to go to bed on an empty stomach for the time being. Welthungerhilfe has supported him with 1.000 TRY which enabled him to buy necessary food for his family and to cover bills and his children needs as well.
“I will not forget this favor, God bless you all the time, now I even have food in stock. But it has not always been like this.” Ferhad said.
*name has been changed