Refugee Resilience: A Photo Essay

Glimpses from a Recent Service Trip

Recently, a Zakat Foundation of America team traveled to Turkey to experience for themselves the power of sustainable refugee programs and to deliver assistance in the harsh winter months.

What stood out to our team? The power of people. People, in their individual essences, are at the core of Zakat Foundation’s mission of service and hope. It is in the tearful but smiling eyes, and in the palms of their hands, and in their dignified and determined strides, that our team drew strength.

We feel the experience and its sentiments are better conveyed through photos than words, so we gathered these for you:

A boy looks on with his bag of new winter clothes. Zakat Foundation gave all the children at its Safe House a stipend to pick and purchase their own winter clothes from a local store. (Gaziantep, Turkey)

Zakat Foundation Communications Manager accepts a hand-painted gift from one of more than 170 orphan children living in this Safe House. There was a surprise closing ceremony in which the kids sang Turkish songs and recited Arabic poetry. Among other programs, children living at the Safe House receive language support classes to better integrate into Turkish society and continue their education. (Gaziantep, Turkey)

Muhammed Ali, one of the orphaned residents of the Muhammad Ali Safe House, smiles as his sister looks on. Zakat Foundation Safe Houses in Turkey are complexes that provide widowed mothers and their children with apartments, vocational courses, after-school tutoring, and other programs to ease their transition in a new country and empower them to be self-sufficient. Muhammed Ali’s mother told us, “The two things I value most are safety and education, and we found both of those things here at the Safe House, so I cannot complain. All praise be to God.” (Gaziantep, Turkey)

Walking down neighborhood streets: Zakat Foundation staff and volunteers follow a distribution truck to hand-deliver winter packages of coal and blankets to widowed mothers in a neighborhood in Gaziantep.

A Zakat Foundation worker unloads heavy bags of coal to fuel warm fires in the unheated homes of widowed mothers in Gaziantep, Turkey. Many families we visited told us they struggled to find fodder for the fire that kept them warm during the winter, using scraps of old fabric they could find to keep it burning.

Kids watch TV while Zakat Foundation workers unload coal and blankets into their home. (Gaziantep, Turkey)

A mother looks on with her child as Zakat Foundation delivers coal for refugee families in the neighborhood to heat their homes. During the winter months, the cold can be deadly. Blankets and coal make the long and frigid nights easier to bear. (Gaziantep, Turkey)

Children look on joyfully as a Zakat Foundation board member, Fatima Khalil, hand-delivers winter kit items to their home.

Field Visit: Staff and volunteers share stories with a refugee resident in Gaziantep, Turkey, after distributing winter relief kits. In this particular home, the widowed mother explained to us that she fled Syria with her three children while pregnant. The constant stress and fear of war were causing her children to have liver disease, she explained. “They got physically sick from the chaos and noise, and I wanted to give them a little bit of comfort. The only way I knew how was to flee on foot — away from the bombs.” (Gaziantep, Turkey)

Zahraa University: Our staff and volunteers visit the engineering laboratory. Zakat Foundation sponsors Zahraa University, offering higher education and restoring a hopeful future for those whose studies war had brutally interrupted. Last year, Zahraa University graduated its first class of Syrian refugee students. (Gaziantep, Turkey)

Noor*, a Syrian refugee with down syndrome, introduces herself during our winter distribution at Zakat Foundation’s Sigharuna Kibaruna Clinic. The clinic serves refugee children with special needs and provides holistic mental health support; 60 percent of children treated at the clinic have disabilities due to war trauma or injury. (Hatay, Turkey)

*-name changed to protect identity

Zakat Foundation’s Executive Director, Halil Demir, distributed cotton candy to children at the Sigharuna Kibaruna Clinic, which offers supplementary vocational and educational classes, physical therapy, and mental health support for refugees suffering disabilities due to war and trauma.

Executive Director Halil Demir and Turkey’s Zakat Foundation representative, Mehmet Demir, look on as children recite their Arabic reading lesson at the Sigharuna Kibaruna clinic.

Executive Director Halil Demir and Zakat Foundation of America representative Mehmet Demir stand outside one of Zakat Foundation’s Safe House complexes in Gaziantep, Turkey.

Categories: Photos & Videos