Building a new future without forgetting the past: A portrait of and enduring commitment and empowerment

Oct 10, 2017

Have you ever thought you could be a professional in teaching a language you hadn't spoken before and make a living out of it, in an entirely new country? Zine Mahli’s answer is no.

In 2014, 3 years after the war broke out in Syria, Mahli’s family’s journey from Jarabulus to Turkey initially started with the hope of providing a better treatment for their father. During the Mahli family’s visit to the Gaziantep hospitals, with the plan to go back home to Jerablus in a couple of days, the war intensified and the area around their house became a hot spot.

This is how the Mahli family had to start their new life in Turkey, where like other refugees have escaped hardship and looked for a safer environment in recent years.

“I don’t think we could find a better shelter than Turkey. Turkish society and culture in this region are unexpectedly close to ours. I don’t want to lose my identity while building a new future. In Europe, things would be more difficult.”

The number of refugees who have fled Syria for neighbouring countries has surpassed five million people for the first time since the war began six years ago. Despite the challenges, the Turkish government, local institutions with support from UNDP do a lot to ease the pressures of the large number of Syrian refugees that have moved to Turkey.

Now Zine works as a translator at the vocational training center of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality Art and Vocational Training Courses Center (GASMEK), which is one of the local institutions UNDP supports with vocational trainings designed for Syrians as well as locals.

Zine and her father Muhammed were also trainees for the foreign trade and sales course, one of the various vocational training courses provided by UNDP Turkey as part of the project of “Mitigating the Impact of Syrian Crisis in Southeast Anatolia”. First her father had started to work as a voluntary translator in this course and then got the job in GASMEK. But he had to pass his duties to Zine due to health problems.

Zine continued to work at GASMEK, where vocational trainings are offered in forty-six different fields. After her work at GASMEK, she gives private Turkish lessons as well.

“The vocational training courses’ support led me to follow my lifelong dream of studying and helped me stand on my own feet, so that we can thrive and not merely survive, I hope” she says.

Zine believes in herself, she is strong, capable and now feels enthusiastic, optimistic and renewed every day more in her new life. Her story is an impressive example of how the notion of stable identities are not enough in today’s world.

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