By Erdogan Cagatay Zontur and Havva Kara Aydin
ANKARA (AA) - A sense of motherhood led a Syrian migrant woman in Turkey's capital to learn Turkish to help her school-age children with their lessons, and now she is dreaming of enrolling in a university to become an interpreter.
Berra Yunis and her family were forced to leave Syria five years ago due to escalating tensions in the region and came to Turkey for a fresh start. It was not possible for her to attend a Turkish language course back then with her newborn daughter and 3-year-old son, but as they grew older, they needed help with their lessons.
It was then she started attending a level-A1 Turkish language course to help her children, and the course raised her hopes of attending a university.
“It is very important that my children receive an education. I want my son to be a doctor and my daughter to be a teacher,” Yunis told Anadolu Agency, speaking on the occasion of International Education Day.
"I have a dream to study Arabic-Turkish translation and interpreting at a university," she added.
With her determination and her husband's support, she has improved her Turkish speaking skills in a short time.
“The beginner level Turkish course I started in November ends this week. Then I will start the elementary course,” she said.
Yunis attends the courses at a community center funded by the European Union and the German government in collaboration with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM).
Explaining her gratitude to her Turkish teachers and the education system, she expressed her happiness that her children are receiving an education at school.
“Some families do not send their children to school, but it is very important for children to receive an education. The life of a person without an education is very difficult,” she said.
For her son Mustafa, her mother’s efforts to learn Turkish are commendable.
"I am really happy that my mother has been learning Turkish," he said, claiming he is the one who speaks Turkish the best in the family.
“The first day I went to school, I had no friends except my uncle's son. Then I learned Turkish and made friends. I also adore my teacher because she loves me,” he said.
Cansu Oba, head of the Ankara Community Center, said they have been working with refugees to improve their living conditions and their social cohesion with locals since 2016.
“Approximately one million of the Syrian refugees in our country are school-age children. The primary way for these children not to be a lost generation is through their involvement in the education system,” Oba said.
Oba stressed that the families of those children are the most important support mechanisms in order to overcome possible adaptation problems they may have at school.
“For this reason, while we implement projects for the schooling of children, we try to support families with psychosocial activities and educational activities. In this context, we try to speed up social adaptation processes with Turkish courses for adults,” she added.
SGDD-ASAM was established in 1995 in Ankara as an independent, impartial and non-profit association to assist refugees and asylum-seekers living in Turkey.
It has been providing social, legal, and psychosocial support for refugees and asylum-seekers, organizing numerous courses and activities for the purposes of integrating them into social life.
GIZ is a German development agency headquartered in Bonn and Eschborn that provides services in the field of international development cooperation.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Jan. 24 as International Day of Education in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.
Turkey and Russia agreed in September 2018 to turn Idlib, Syria into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
Since then, more than 1,300 civilians there have been killed in attacks by the Bashar al-Assad regime and Russian forces as the cease-fire continued to be violated.
Over one million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the last year.