Muna Ismail
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23 June, 2017

Dr Muna Ismail interviews Aysun Osveren, a professional Physiotherapist working with the Turkish Red Crescent Society, on the issues facing Syrian refugees living in Turkey and her work with disbabled children in Somalia. This interview was conducted during the second transnational Migrants and Refugees as Re-Builders meeting (with multiplier events) in Ankara, Turkey on 24 March 2017.

Q: What do you think are the challenges refugees in general are currently facing in Turkey?

I haven't seen any problems of Turkish families, that I have met so far towards Syrian refugees. However, I have heard of some problems that my friends spotted of refugees adapting to Turkish culture. The main problem is usually seen as the language barrier as most of the refugees can’t speak Turkish. The refugees need to know the language for better integration into Turkish society. Above all, I haven’t seen any serious problems refugees are facing. All in all, we are a Muslim nation and we are not doing all this charity work by expecting something in return. We are so happy for being able help those Syrian refugees out there and I personally take great pleasure in doing it.

Q:You are working around the world. You mentioned your work in Somalia. How do you help children with disabilities in Somalia? Are there similarities between the children with disabilities in Somalia and the children of Syrian refugees in Turkey?

I worked with disabled children. There is a high birth rate in Somalia so there are many children. The life conditions are very hard for the average Somali family due to poverty, drought, and lack of medical facilities. Even healthy children have so many difficulties to survive. In this sense, physiotherapy and rehab are very important to address these two compounded factors of disability and poverty.

What I saw when I was in Mogadishu for two months:

There were so many disabled children, I would say more like 200. I took so many orthopaedic devices and equipment to Somalia when I travelled there. The equipment was not compatible for all children, nevertheless they were happy to have access to it. We must keep doing this work. We need to establish more rehab units in Somalia. The conditions of the Syrian refugees in Turkey are not as bad as it is in Somalia. We must help children with mental disabilities as well. I have a daughter with downs syndrome. I know how much help this kind of children need. The lack of rehab services is keeping us away from helping those children to reach their full potential. However, we are hopeful and we will be taking much better care of those children soon. Inshallah.

Q: What are your hopes for the war-torn countries?

According to Islam, all Muslims must be hopeful all the time. Therefore, as Muslims; we must be hopeful and hardworking all the time for the good of the humankind. I am sure we will be successful at the end no matter how much time it takes.

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