Save the Children's outreach worker Sevda Bahsi received a call from the school coordinator of Süleyman Shah Temporary Education Centre in Erzin, Hatay, Turkey. As a school administrator, he was concerned for the well-being of a young Syrian student who had recently enrolled and was blind in one eye. Sevda contacted and visited the family. When Adnan was five years old, his home was destroyed by an airstrike. A large piece of shrapnel hit his left eye, destroying his retina completely. After receiving initial medical treatment in Syria, his family eventually left their village in the Aleppo countryside in January 2016 and sought shelter in Turkey. The family has sought medical treatment to help their son return to a normal quality of life.
Adnan's story in his own words:
"We were at home when a bomb hit our house and a big piece of shrapnel hit my eye. My mummy carried me to the nearest health centre. I cannot see out of my left eye anymore. I'm really sad my eye is like this. We have been to a lot of hospitals. When we came to Turkey we went to a hospital with [Save the Children] and we waited for a very long time."
Amira, Adnan's mother explains:
"I gathered him up in my arms, ran out of the house barefoot and got him to the health centre in our village. We did not have a hospital and the health centre did not have any qualified doctors. The nurses there were able to give him immediate treatment. My husband was injured in the attack too, his body is covered in scarring. For months after the attack that destroyed our house, Adnan was withdrawn. He didn't want anyone to see him. He was terrified of being inside. He would wet his bed at night because he was too scared to go to the bathroom. In January , six months after the bombing, we were able to cross into Turkey because we needed advanced medical treatment.
On the last hospital visit with Save the Children [in Hatay] we were told that the optometry unit was not taking any more patients. I do not know what Sevda [Save the Children's community outreach worker] said because I do not understand Turkish, but she somehow managed to get the optometry specialist to examine Adnan. She also managed to get the next appointment for Adnan's treatment to be rescheduled from 2017 to August 29 [the following week]! Adnan was so happy when I told him that we would be going to the hospital again for the treatment of his eye. He said: 'Please mummy, please tell them to give me a real eye that I can see out of again.' Sadly, that is not possible. His retina was destroyed. But getting a prosthetic eye will help him regain his confidence and forget the horrible night we survived."
Adnan and his younger brother, Abdurrahman, aged 4, both receive transportation assistance to attend full-time education at Süleyman Shah Temporary Education Centre which Save the Children supports. The transportation assistance allows for the brothers to travel to and from school safely and alleviate financial burdens on the family. Save the Children is also securing the medical treatment that Adnan needs.
Project information and major issues:
No one escapes the violence of war and children who are injured and subsequently maimed are particularly vulnerable as the type of specialised paediatric care is often unavailable in conflict settings. Providing high quality medical care to enable children to overcome their disabilities enriches their lives.
There are over 500,000 school-aged Syrian children in Turkey who are unable to access education. Syrian children who meet Turkish language proficiency requirements are able to enrol in Turkish state schools. Most Syrian children attend 'Temporary Education Centres' – de facto schools that were original established by Syrian communities that have since been formalised by the Turkish Ministry of National Education.
Poverty is a key factor keeping children away from education, with many children acting as the breadwinners for family. Equally, and less visible, is the impact of the conflict on the mental well-being of children who need targeted psycho-social support to overcome their trauma.