By Ayberk Yurtsever
ADANA, Turkey, 18 September 2014 – In the Adana suburb of Yüreğir, 10-year-old Intisar is busy helping her mother prepare the family’s evening meal.
Their home is sparsely furnished with cushions scattered on the floor, a fan and a table. A package of Syrian bread sits on a tablecloth on the floor.
Intisar is one of nine children in the family, which is comprised of four girls and five boys. She and her family came to Turkey to escape the fighting in Syria almost a year ago. Her father, Ismail, cannot work, but several of her brothers have managed to find part-time jobs. The family struggles to make ends meet and putting a nutritious meal together for the large group is a daily challenge.
“Sometimes we eat three times a day, sometimes twice and sometimes only once. We buy cheap food; Rice, cracked wheat, or vegetables. Our basic food is the Syrian bread we buy from the bakery,” says Ismail.
“I want to go back to school because one day I want to be a doctor,” says Intisar as she leads the way to the kitchen. Lentils jars are stacked on the shelves. The pot on the little gas cylinder on the counter is empty.
In an effort to research the nutrition patterns of Syrians living in Turkey, AFAD health workers are currently visiting 1,500 Syrian households; 1,200 outside the refugee camps and 300 inside the camps. The nutrition study is being carried out in Adana, Mersin, Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, Mardin, Istanbul and Konya.
Ramazan Ozdemir is the AFAD health officer in charge of the team in Adana. They will conduct surveys in a total of 96 houses —71 outside the camp. He says, “We visit approximately 10 houses per day, visiting children and collecting data such as height, weight and arm length. Then we send the information for analysis.”
Ismail says. “We are happy in Turkey but life is difficult here.” He says it’s hard to get regular food aid and they rely heavily on charitable people in the area.”
Once Ramazan and his team finish taking their information from the children, the youngsters happily take the candies the health workers offer them. The bare kitchen provides the to answer to what the 11 members of the family will eat for dinner tonight.