01 Nov 2021
By: Begüm Başaran

It is hard for us to imagine ourselves in a situation where our life gets turned upside down and we lose everything in the blink of an eye—home, work, friends, and hope. 

But for some people, this is reality. For example, Serband, a primary school teacher from Syria, experienced this first-hand. The conflict and escalating violence in Syria forced him, his wife, and their four children to leave their home and flee to nearby Turkey in 2014. 

The family settled down in Suruc (Sanliurfa Province) because the cost of living there still allowed Serband to support his family with his salary as a teacher. Serband has never felt like a stranger in Turkey: he likes the people and gets along well with the locals—he got familiar with the Turkish culture and traditions prior to his moving to Turkey. 

The hard decision to leave home and starting afresh in a new country did not only bring a lot of anxiety into Serband’s life but also impacted his interests: “After I lost everything because of the war, I lost my passion for art and literature which have always given me energy and strength”. On top of all of that, Serband didn’t have the extra money and time to maintain his pastimes. 

Luckily, Serband learned about the opportunities provided by the IOM Psychosocial Support Mobile Team, such as painting activities and lessons, and decided to give it a try. He’s never regretted his decision – he's improved his painting skills and found his very own coping strategy: “I feel refreshed now. And painting helped me overcome the psychological traumas that I acquired due to the conflict”. 

Serband’s story doesn’t end here. He has become one of the facilitators of IOM Turkey’s new psychosocial support activities: “I am so grateful for the trust and support. I feel more confident today and I am so excited to share my knowledge with other people. I hope it will give them the same support that I received myself when I needed it the most”. 

Serband is a proponent of non-formal education and art activities. He encourages everyone to learn more, discovers their talents, improves their skills, and do their best to integrate them into their communities, especially migrants and refugees. He firmly believes that societies that are strong in culture and creativity will help the creation of a better future.