I'm so tired of hearing about Salah Abdeslam being found. Yeah, he killed people. OK, he's a terrorist but there's more going on in the world that I'd like to hear about than the police finding guilty criminals. The EU just made a deal with Turkey to trade a life for a life. I watch the images on TV of these people, fellow humans who are stuck. Unable to go anywhere. There was a little girl peeping out of her tent carrying her pink backpack, which was perhaps her only valued possession. Turkey, the country I reside in right now, has just agreed to take 3.3 billion euros to "help the Syrians". I've seen how they help them. This doesn't look good. I can't even imagine what the Turks are going to do to try to stop Syrians from leaving their Aegean shores. How do they intend to put these measures into practice?
What I find most troubling is that the EU and Turkey are dictating the lives of other humans for money. The EU doesn't want them within their borders. Turkey doesn't want them either, but there is something they do want. They want to be able to travel freely in Europe which is something that most Turkish citizens aren't permitted to do. The EU has granted this permission and Turkey has taken the bait. I'm sad because I see the Syrians in this city. I see how their children travel on the buses selling kleenexes for money. I read comments on facebook groups of expat women in Istanbul (who are not refugees themselves) chiding the parents of these children on how they should take better care of their children and teach them how to be more careful while riding buses. I also know firsthand how difficult it is to get legal permission to do anything in this country. Turkey says they are granting work permits to refugees and are permitting Syrians to attend schools here but I have yet to see that anywhere. Every refugee I know attends an "unofficial" school. Because I'm foreign and have no Turkish familial connections, I haven't been able to get my own children permission to attend school since I quit my first job. (I'm not complaining about my situation. I love my new life.) What I don't like is that Turkey says that refugees have freedoms here, namely permission to work and study, and I myself cannot get these things without having a job to get them for me. I'm stuck homeschooling my kids. What about the refugees who are living in squalor in this freezing city! Of course they can't watch their own kids! They're trying to find food and warmth.
I just don't know what Turkey can do for these refugees even with 3.3 billion euros. A meal here and there. A lira here and there. Not enough. I don't think the EU is showing enough foresight in this issue. Taking refugees back will not contain them here for long when there continues to be little opportunity for them to live decently.
Perhaps many people in the western world think it should be easy for Syrians and other refugees to integrate here. Just to inform those who think this: Syrians generally speak Arabic and Turks speak Turkish. This makes finding work and attending school very difficult. I've tried to find "good" materials to teach my children Turkish. Non-existent. I haven't looked to see what there is for Arabic speakers wanting to learn Turkish. You may think that if they are immersed in the language they will pick it up like the Mexicans in the USA do. Well, Spanish and English have a lot more in common than Turkish and Arabic. Different alphabets, different writing systems, left to right or right to left orthography, and possibly more. I don't speak Arabic so I'm not aware of all of the differences. But again I say, how will the children integrate and learn Turkish if they are not permitted to attend school with the Turks?
I hope Erdogan, the president of Turkey, will honor his promises and devote all that money to the Syrians. On a more positive note, Turks are inherently kind-hearted people. I'm white, female, a mother, not obese, clean, and American. All these things may affect how Turks treat me. On a personal level they've been kind and helpful to me and my family. I've also seen them being kind and loving to all types of people on the street on a regular basis. Not something I've seen in my home country. There is potential here. I hope for the best.
I'm kind of pissed that Americans are scared of helping. As I contemplate my return to the states next year I dream of bringing a Syrian family with me. I haven't met them yet and I don't know if I will be able to do anything, but I just saw on the news that 3.7 million Syrian children are now called the "lost generation". There is so little a human needs to survive and thrive. I think of my life in the USA and marvel at the abundance me, my friends and family all had. Food, warmth, shelter, clean water. I had more than enough of all this. Now that Turkey is trying to absorb all these refugees, I immediately think "Why?". Why must it only be Turkey? Why not everyone and especially those with plenty?
No easy answers, never easy answers, right?