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A single mother’s journey in Türkiye: Filiz’ story

 

January 19, 2023 • 4 min read

44-year-old Filiz has met more challenges in recent years than most people would see in a lifetime. Having your marriage fall apart, being diagnosed with breast cancer then and raising four children with no income would be the downfall of many people. She was able to endure all these difficulties and is rebuilding her life from scratch thanks to her unwavering determination and the humanitarian support provided by GOAL Türkiye.

Filiz did not finish primary school. Her family sent her to work in the fields at a young age. As soon as she was old enough, she was married and had four sons. Then one day in 2018, her husband left for another woman.

“He brought it all crashing down on me in just one day, overturned everything.”

She didn’t know how she would feed the household. Fortunately, her neighbours gave her some support. “We ate stale bread, so didn’t go to bed hungry at least.”

She worked various jobs to provide for her children – working in the fields, in a factory and as a house cleaner. She would spend all day on her feet, before finally getting home to care for her children.

Filiz in the courtyard of her family’s apartment.

Fighting together

No matter how hard she tried to work for her family, bigger problems were to come. She lost her mother two years after her husband left and within a year of that, learned that she had breast cancer.

“Psychologically, I was devastated. My situation was very critical, and I had surgery within a week.”

Despite her own difficulties, Filiz’s main concern was her children.

“What will they do if I die? As a mother, I needed to strive for my children, I needed to fight for them” she says.

GOAL’s support

Thankfully, the cancer treatment is going well, and Filiz has begun to get her life back on track. However, with the treatment taking such a toll on her body she can no longer carry out the same physically demanding tasks that provided for her family.

“I have been both mother and father to my children. If I didn’t have cancer, I would work in anything, somehow earn my living, but this disease is pushing me hard. I can only take care of my children. I even struggle to clean my house,” she says.

Fortunately, one of her friends told her about how GOAL could support. She jumped at the opportunity and attended a course in agricultural production and enterprise organised by GOAL Türkiye. The low intensity work with plants and flowers suits Filiz physical condition as she continues to recover.

“The soil has been good to me. Being among different people in training also has made me forget my troubles a little bit,” she says.

Filiz has four sons aged 17,14 and 7-year-old twins, Güney (left) and Yusuf (right).

Strength to strength

Filiz now hopes to find a role in agricultural to help care for her family.  While she looks for work GOAL teams have supported the family with grocery and clothing vouchers. Her rent has also been covered for six months.

Filiz is grateful for the support. Despite their ongoing challenges, she hopes her children will be able to enjoy the opportunities she missed out on as a child.

“GOAL’s support has been very crucial for me,” she says.

“I always tell my kids to finish the school and go to university. You need to save yourself. I’m trying to raise them to become the best version of themselves in spite of the poverty. I wish my father had sent me to school. My dream was to be an archaeologist.”

Filiz does not have a permanent income. She keeps her family warm with wood she collects from the street. She also scraps plastic bottles and tries to make ends meet with the support of her sibling and friends.

GOAL Türkiye’s Social Services and Coaching Worker, Ceylan Havare, is proud to see the improvement in Filiz’ situation.

“When I first met her a year ago, she was lacking confidence to move forward. She became stronger and looks to the future more fearlessly. As a humanitarian worker, there are some situations where we can’t find a solution. But when I see examples like Filiz, I hold on to my work and I walk this path with more excitement and hope,” she says.

The GREEN project

Implemented by GOAL Türkiye in cooperation with Adana Metropolitan Municipality, the GREEN project is funded by the United States Government. The GREEN project aims to improve the socio-economic inclusion, resilience and self-sufficiency of vulnerable women and girls from host and Syrian refugee communities through skills development and employment. Within the scope of the project, more than 3,000 women have received protection support, while more than a thousand women took part in vocational training.

Filiz with GOAL Türkiye’s Social Services and Coaching Worker, Ceylan Havare.