Turns out, he was the child of the house we were going to, he is only 3 years old. The house has three children, the other two are two girls with their hair cut to zero. The father of the house is Kurdish, the mother is Turkish. Since they ran away and got married, their parents rejected both of them. The family lives in misery. They seek refuge wherever work is found. They came to this village from Iğdır. The father is a shepherd. They sometimes live in constructions. The oldest girl is around the age of a 4th grader but cannot read or write. Above all, the family struggles to survive.
We travel from village to village in Anatolia, taking such families under protection and trying to bring their children into life and education. Otherwise, children from poverty are sold, they are married at an early age! The inside of the house (one room) smells of suffering. All items have been collected from the trash.
“What do you need?”, I ask the mother. She replied, “I want my children to buy holiday clothes, sister, so that they should not be embarrassed this holiday!”. Hearing these words killed me.
It touches me that she wanted so little while living in great poverty. I reply, “We will go to the market together tomorrow, the children can choose their clothes.” “God bless you”, she bows her head. She was ashamed. Not out of poverty, but out of wanting something.
I tell myself that whatever I’m going to do, I have to do it like a family member. Without embarrassing them, without reducing them, and without diminishing their needs. I make a dirty pillow ball.
The room is small, but we still played volleyball with the children. We laughed. .
We got up to go. When we went out, three girls, arm in arm, approached us.
“Your friends are here too, introduce me!”, I say to the girls of the house. “They are not our friends”, one of the 3 girls says arrogantly, “they are shepherds!”
I felt like I’ve been slapped hard. It’s like something was pouring out of me… I put my arms on the girls’ shoulders and pulled them close to me.
“I am these girls’ aunt”, I said, “I came from Istanbul to see them”.
“My father was a shepherd too!”, I added.
They asked me what do I do for a living.
They asked where was I teaching.
They were very surprised when I said I was a psychology teacher at the university.
I then turned to leave.
The girls of the house accompanied me to the car. They gave me the biggest, more tender hug; a hug so tight I felt my heart grow.
To love is to be a parent to abandoned souls, I understood that once again.
Ayten Zara Erzurum Village School Construction /
Child Abuse Prevention / Development Projects 2020
Ayten Zara Erzurum Village School Construction / Child Abuse Prevention/Development Projects 2020