In good spirits thanks to Trozi and Etteh
It’s 4am and still dark. But the men and women gathering at the entrance of a refugee camp in Mardin province in Southeastern Turkey are in a good mood. They are about to go to the nearby fields: to harvest cucumbers. As part of a project funded by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Welthungerhilfe has rented agricultural land for Syrian refugees. Each of the 53 participating families can cultivate 5,000 square metres of land.
Earning An Income And Improving Mental Health
With the support of agricultural experts, the families plant and harvest a special cucumber variety that looks like a pale version of a normal cucumber, which is called "Trozi" in Turkish and "etteh" in Arabic. In the province of Mardin, green vegetables are available for the equivalent of 0.26 to 0.50 euros. On an average day, the families earn between 70 and 100 Turkish Lira (12 bis 18 Euro). The displaced people have the chance to earn an income. Even if the income is not always sufficient, as Ahmad Taleb complains: "Some might not have enough money to start their own business after this project ends. There are not enough job opportunities in this area.
Ahmad, 64, has fled Hama, his daughter died in the war. When his house was destroyed, he fled to Turkey. In the project of the Welthungerhilfe he found a new task. As mukther, community representative, to new arrivals in the camp he explains how they can participate in the project and register. For Ahmad, the cucumber project is not only about earing own income, it also offers a break from the monotonous life in the refugee camp.
Refugees About The Project
Ahmad Taleb, 64, from Hama, Syria: “One of my daughters died in the war in Syria. There were a lot of battles and clashes where we lived. Our house was completely destroyed, so we fled to Turkey. I’m a mukthar [community representative] in the camp. When the project started we announced it to people in the camp and explained what it is about and how people can register for it. Some might not have enough money to start their own business after this project ends. There are not enough job opportunities in this area.”
Sawsan Nahas from Hama, Syria: “Living in the camp, I used to feel very sick all the time, but when I started working in the fields I began to feel so much better. The project has had a big psychological effect on me. The worst thing for us is to have nothing to do. We are used to working and having an income.“
Faruk Youssef, 45, from Deir-ez Zor, Syria: “In Syria, I used to grow vegetables and grains next to my house. Here in the refugee camp I have spent too much time lying in my tent staring at the ceiling and thinking. Since I started working in this project, I feel so much better – psychologically and socially. I feel much more comfortable now. My wife and I are no longer just thinking about the war. The first day I went into the field to harvest the cucumbers, I felt like I was beginning a new chapter in my life.”
Aya Daoud, 38, from Idlib, Syria: “I’m a single mother. My husband is in Syria and married to somebody else now. I came to Turkey all by myself. There were heavy clashes in the area where I lived. I decided to come to Turkey with my children. Now I earn 40-45 Turkish Lira every day I go to the field and I can provide basic things for my children. I’m also trying to save money for the winter as we will not have any extra income then.”
Amer Khaled, 51, from Homs, Syria: “I have lived here for five and a half years now. People are happier since this project started. They get a chance to leave the camp, work and earn an income. There are fewer health issues now. My cucumber field is newly planted and doesn’t have many cucumbers at the moment. I don’t earn a lot of money, but I’m not looking at other people enviously. Because for me, I mostly care about the experience of going to the field with my wife. We breath the fresh air, we move around and we enjoy our time together.”
Welthungerhilfe and its partners support people in Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. The work is coordinated by the country office in Gaziantep, Turkey. The war in Syria has been ongoing since 2011. Several million people had to flee and are dependent on aid. Welthungerhilfe and its partners provide emergency relief and try to create future prospects.