“I was told to leave my country or die,” said Sanaa*. “They didn’t say why.” So in 2009, Sanaa left all she had worked for in Baghdad to go and live in Istanbul. She had friends in the Turkish capital, but nothing else.
“Things are hard here. I left behind my house, my friends, my family and my job. I was a dentist in Iraq but I don’t have a job in Turkey because the language is very difficult,” said Sanaa.
“I’m zero here. I don’t know what my future is. I depend on myself for everything. Before, my family used to help me,” she said.
Caritas Turkey supports Iraqi refugees through theWomen’s Solidarity Group in Istanbul. The group is a lifeline for Iraqi women, for whom the challenges of being alone in a new country are enormous. It helps them tackle their sense of alienation and offers an environment in which they can express themselves freely.
“I met people with the same problems as me and I made new friends,” said Sanaa. “We talked about our country and we looked at the psychological impact of leaving our Iraq.We also did handicrafts together and made things. The group made me feel less lonely.”
*Name changed to protect identity.