From Harvest Field to School: The Story of Ali and Zehra

Ali and Zehra are just two of the children we have met during our “Last Stop for Child Labor: Eskişehir!” project. Ali and Zehra, who had to leave their homes and come to Turkey with their families due to the war conditions in Syria in 2017, found themselves living with the realities of seasonal migratory agriculture, just as the thousands of other children living under the same conditions.

Ali and Zehra’s parents are aware of how important it is for their children to receive education at school. However, they said that they have to make a living and the seasonal agriculture already only allows them to work at certain times of the year. Therefore, they regretfully said that they needed Ali and Zehra to help them with the work in the field. The family, who first stayed at Bursa and Antalya as seasonal agriculture workers, are currently working at Eskişehir and wish to permanently stay there because they believe that settling is better than having a tent life. Besides, building a settled life is critical for their children to complete their education lives.

Before crossing paths with our project team;
13-year-old Ali, the oldest child of the house, was working at the tomato field with his parents every day for 11-12 hours. Therefore, he couldn’t continue the education he previously started under these conditions. 11-year-old Zehra, who has never attended school before in her life, was working at the field too. When she was at home, she would take the full responsibility of the house, such as cleaning, washing the clothes and folding and taking care of her siblings.

Ali took an equivalency test, an exam that enables students to continue their education at the accurate level, after the break he had to take due to their migration from Antalya to Eskişehir. With the support of our team, he succesfully passed the exam. He is now enrolled in school and he will start his education from the 8th grade.

Zehra will start her education from the 4th grade. She will proceed with an adaptation class because her Turkish is not sufficient. Moreover, our team provides technical support about EBA TV so that they can follow their classes during the distance education times. Ali and Zehra are now following their online lectures with the support they received, which helps them to improve their Turkish too.

In our project, which lies under the roof of LIFT, our field team gives priority to the family’s school-age children to continue their education wholly and efficiently. The attendance of children to the classes, their school performances, whether they go to the field or not, are all monitored with simultaneous communication conducted with their families and teachers. Meanwhile, the families under temporary protection status in Turkey with children who are unable to attend school, are provided with conditional education assistance.

Ali, who wants to be a doctor in the future, is now very happy that he will go to school instead of the field. Zehra, who wants to be a teacher when she grows up, is extremely excited that she will go to school for the first time. Our “Last Stop for Child Labor: Eskişehir!” project continues so that Ali, Zehra and the hundreds of other children we met and supported, can break the cycle of seasonal agriculture and start a new life where they can get education and realize their dreams.

* “Last Stop for Child Labor: Eskişehir!” project, which is co-funded by “The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)” and “European Civil Projection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO),” is supported by “Local Initiative Fund in Turkey (LIFT)” under the “Community Centres and Local Initiatives Project (CLIP).”

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