"I remember the sounds of the incessant bombing. We were forced to flee our village and I thought we would not escape the bombs. With every step further away from home, my heart was slowly dying." -41-year-old Younes recalls one of the most difficult days in his village of Al-Rafa in Syria.
At the end of 2018, Younes’ life was changed when his village was hit by shelling. Younes, along with his family and many other residents of the village, was forced to flee to safety in the north of the country, knowing that that may be the last time they ever saw their home.
Younes and his family initially fled to the town of Maasran, where they stayed for three months until another bombing and intense airstrikes forced them to flee once again. After that, Younes and his family moved further north into another town, only to have to leave again after six months due to another serious escalation of conflict. They continued to struggle to find a safe place until they were able to move into the Maarat Al-Ikhwan camp, where Younes and his family have now settled.
"Every time we were displaced, we had to abandon most of our belongings. So, in the end, we arrived at the camp with nothing, " tells Younes.
Despite the difficulties he’s faced, Younes hasn’t given up hope. At the age of 41, he has started to rebuild his life. Younes works as a construction worker to support his family and to make ends meet, as well as being a "mobile barber" in the mornings and evenings. Despite this workload and the challenging working hours, Younes enjoys his second job in the community and finds it very rewarding. Every morning after having breakfast with his wife and children, Younes cleans his shaving equipment, puts it in his bag and walks around the camp where people are already waiting for him to get their hair cut or their beard trimmed. But Younes is much more than just a barber in the camp: he listens to people's concerns and problems, gives friendly advice, and comforts them with kind words and his never-fading smile. Camp residents and clients of Younes describe him as a virtuous parent, a good neighbour, and a skilled barber.
Despite the difficult times that Younes has had to face, being integrated into this community and gradually improving his and his family's living conditions makes him feel more hopeful for the future.
"After we moved to Maarat Al-Ikhwan camp in September 2019, our lives have slowly begun to recover. My children returned to school. Here we have everything we need to feel safe and secure. There is always water available. There are toilets, bathrooms, and a kitchen. Every month we receive cash for food."
Together with its implementing partners and donors like SCHF and others, International Organization for Migration Turkey provides a range of humanitarian support to vulnerable populations in northwest Syria: from the shelter and non-food item assistance, WASH services and food assistance, to camp management and protection services, to ensure people like Younes and his family receive necessary aid and are able to meet their basic needs as they rebuild their lives.