• Yasin Almaz | IOM Communications Consultant

"Before, I thought life had stopped when I left Syria," Fatma reflects. "Now, I've learned that life doesn't stop, and I can continue living in any situation."

When the war erupted in Syria, Fatma and her family faced serious risks. Her husband, a hammersmith, lost his livelihood. Meanwhile, their eldest son sustained eye injuries, leading to a partial loss of vision, and obtained stuttering problems due to traumatic experiences. These health concerns compelled them to move to Türkiye in 2016, in search of proper medical treatment.

Like many migrants, she initially struggled to adapt to her new life, grappling with language barriers and bearing the responsibility of caring for her children. After a while, her husband had to return to Syria. Fatma decided to stay. She knew she had to start somewhere, especially after what her children had gone through in their early years. For her, Izmir was a fresh start.

Like many who fled the war, Fatma is trying to rebuild her life while navigating all the challenges that come.

She immediately started looking for jobs and began working from home, crafting handmade items. She enrolled her children in school and joined Turkish-speaking clubs to improve her Turkish.


Like many who fled the war, Fatma is trying to rebuild her life while navigating all the challenges that come. Photo: IOM 2024/Yasin Almaz

Managing everything on her own, the situation quickly became overwhelming. "We had no relatives, so we weren't socializing in the community."

The International Organization for Migration (IOM)'s Psychosocial Mobile Team (PMT) in Izmir encountered Fatma in her neighbourhood, offering individual psychological counseling to both her and her children. They were also involved in activities, such as information and skills development sessions, aiming to enhance their resilience and foster community inclusion.

"Attending these activities made it easier for us to adapt," Fatma expresses. IOM has been operating PMTs since 2016 to provide psychosocial support to individuals in disadvantaged and remote areas in Gaziantep, Hatay, İzmir, İstanbul, Kahramanmaraş, and Şanlıurfa. The teams work with migrants and local community members to conduct mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) activities, tailored to their needs of migrants and local community members. Group activities are organized to promote cohesion, solidarity and empowerment. Activities include stress management, yoga, peer bullying and more.

After undergoing individual sessions, Fatma's son marked an improvement with his stuttering issues. “Before the sessions, he wouldn't speak to anyone. After the sessions, he started socializing, his self-confidence increased, and he can speak well now,” says Fatma.


As a single mother, Nehid shoulders the responsibility of caring for her family. Photo: IOM 2024/Yasin Almaz

For Fatma, the friendships she formed with people she met during these activities continued in the neighborhood and surroundings. "I've felt a natural change in my relationships. The communication we built is comforting. We talk about our daily lives and activities."

Nehid, a mother of five, faced the same challenges when she first left Syria. She has been separated from her husband for three years, while three of her children are with disabilities and need regular care, which adds to her financial hardship.

Nehid works in the textile sector to support her family. Two of her children go to school, but her  children with disabilities need special education support. Understandably, these challenges places psychological strain on her.

Through the guidance of a neighbor, whose son with a disability also attended PMT activities, she found support for her youngest son Eyhem. She enrolled him in PMT-organized activities specifically designed to improve the psychosocial -well-being of children.

Eyhem enjoys participating in football matches. "Before the match, we painted our jerseys with pictures in the colors we wanted. It was a lot of fun."

Nehid notes how Eyhem's participation in activities has built his confidence. "Previously, he was not very communicative. He has become more engaged, interacting with his environment. He appears much happier now.”

Eyhem is passionate about football, getting into debates with his brother about their favourite players. Photo: IOM 2024/Yasin Almaz

Today, Nehid remains positive and proactive. Seeing the improvement in her children's well-being has improved her own.

"My mood impacts my children's, so I try to stay strong and positive while dealing with difficulties.”

Meanwhile, Fatma has found the courage to pursue her dream of continuing her education. She is currently attending high school and is dedicated to advancing to higher levels.

"I got married at a young age. I wanted to study, I had goals, but I couldn't continue. After my children grew up, I wanted to fulfill my dream," she conveys. "I want to empower myself and continue my education as much as possible. I believe it's essential for women to stand on our own feet to make our own decisions.”

IOM Türkiye's Psychosocial Mobile Teams (PMTs) implements activities in close coordination with district governorships and municipalities, with the financial support of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM).