Ahmed is one of the many refugees receiving psychosocial care at the Syrian Social Gathering (SSG) centre near Hatay, Turkey. A former engineering student in Homs, Ahmed was arrested by authorities back in 2012 during a peaceful protest. Following his arrest he was detained in prison for seven months. There, he was repeatedly tortured including electrocution which resulted in long term brain damage.
Eventually, Ahmed was released from prison and shortly after he and his wife fled from Homs to Turkey. Shortly after arriving in Hatay, he faced the same challenge that several other refugees faced - finding stable employment.
After months of looking for work but to no avail and running low on resources, Ahmed was faced with the tough decision of returning to Syria. It was on this perilous journey back that he ran into further misfortune as he ended up being captured several times by several different warring groups within Syria. He was regularly beaten and questioned on his alleged affiliations with other opposing groups. He was eventually tried by one of the armed groups that captured him, falsely accusing him of connections with other rival armed groups. “When I was held by them, they would toy with me, telling me how they would cut off my head,” he explains. Luckily he was eventually freed when family members provided witness testimony of his innocence.
Now finally in Turkey, he has a more jaded view of the ongoing conflict in his country. “After being held by nearly all of the main armed groups in the war I see that there are no clear ‘good sides’. They all have dirty hands and I have no intention to ever come back to that place again. I just want to move on with my life here in Turkey.”
At the SSG, he receives regular psychosocial care from his case worker. “He is great to me; he has been helping me with my concentration which I’ve been struggling with since being tortured. This is also helping me get out of my depression. He’s really changed my life and given me the self-confidence I need to rebuild my life again.”
As he continues to receive regular care from his social worker, he now looks forward to completing his engineering degree in Turkey, enrolling his two daughters into the education program at SSG and carrying on with his life with his family.
Photo Credit: IOM/Muse Mohammed