It’s been a busy few weeks for me here in the Village but thankfully yesterday gave me a reprieve of sorts and I was able to spend the day playing catch up. Catching up on cleaning and catching up on the piles of laundry that never seems to diminish and just catching up on life in general.
With my second load of laundry drying on the balcony I took the third load down to SIL’s line knowing that it would be under the watchful eye of FIL who was sitting in the sunshine warming his bones. A couple of hours later I went back downstairs to bring the washing in only to find that it was missing. It had been stolen. All of it!
What was stolen? Two pairs of men’s jeans, two men’s sweaters, a shirt, copious pairs of The Turk’s underwear (with Batman on the front) and The Turk’s funeral jacket (which has been overused this week with 3 funerals – 3 funerals!! I know right?). Also stolen were two pairs of The Turk’s shoes, a pair of my gumboots and an old pair of Daughter’s converse. I can be cynical right now and start cursing these people who stole The Turk’s Batman undies or I can hope that whoever took the clothes needed them more than we do.
As I walk around the Village I pass many new faces. The Village has had a transformation of sorts over the past three years since we moved here due to the influx of refugees living in Mersin. In fact the city of Mersin with its population of over 1 million people is thought to have (officially) more than 150,000 Syrian refugees (unofficially that number is likely closer to 350,000) based here waiting in limbo between the hells of war and an uncertain emigration to Europe either by boat or overland. We should also not forget that the escape to Europe by boat is still very much a dangerous proposition and, although it is no longer headline news, there are still too many deaths happening off the Turkish coastline.
Some refugees are making a new life for themselves here in Mersin. They have taken apartments, their children go to schools and they have integrated into the Turkish way of life but these are the minority as way too many refugees just do not have the capital with their lifesavings paying for their trip across the Mediterranean Sea. Arabic signs have been installed in many shops now and rather than the shopkeeper knowing English they all now seem to be proficient in Arabic. There has also been the opening of NGO’s around Mersin to assist those refugees who have decided to make Mersin their home rather than attempt the dangerous crossing to Europe. The NGO in Mezitli is a huge success offering a Syrian curriculum to 2,000 pupils in its own school, manages a clinic and eases administrative formalities for refugees.
Turkey’s recent agreement with EU leaders to receive 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) as part of a package of incentives aimed at persuading it to do more to stop the thousands upon thousands of migrants leaving for Europe is a great beginning to supporting the refugees however the concern for Turkey is that if the refugees treks are halted here then this influx of population will put more of a strain on this country’s resources and on the already overflowing population. The Turkish people, widely known for their generosity, are finding it difficult to smile through the cost to them personally. Lower paid workers are suffering with Syrians willing to do manual labour at half of the rate of a Turkish worker. Right now I can’t see an viable solution to this situation and the overwhelming wave of displaced people now no longer on Turkey’s doorstep but rather in its living room. Frankly Turkey is going to need more than a short term answer of monetry aid, it is going to need the whole world to work together to help the refugees either return safely to their homes or to help them assimilate into their new homes whether it be here in Turkey or further abroad.
The city of Mersin is changing quite dramatically as is the Village. To the person who is the proud owner of The Turk’s Batman underwear I hope you enjoy them and I hope you and your family make it to wherever you are attempting to go. I did ask FIL if he saw someone steal our clothes and he nodded and laughed. Seriously this guy is bat shit crazy!
Photo credit: Fabio Bucciarelli for Al Jazeera America
Side note: For those of you who recall my recent post Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom the writer of that book Lisa Morrow has been working with an NGO in Istanbul called “Small Projects Istanbul” who, similarly to the NGO in Mezitli, Mersin, assist with education, and formalities for refugees living in Istanbul. Lisa has generously agreed to donate AUD$1.00 for every one of her books sold for the month of February so anyone wanting to help should grab one of Lisa’s wonderful books on either Kindle or hard copy from Amazon. Also Small Projects Istanbul have a craft collective where Syrian refugee women have the opportunity to develop skills in handcrafts and earn livelihood support to help them rebuild their lives. They sell their handcrafts here.
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