Disability no obstacle for Syrian Turkmen refugee in Istanbul

41-year-old Sevsen Mustafa Sheikh fled to Istanbul on her own in a wheelchair and is now working to bring her brother over as well.

Disability no obstacle for Syrian Turkmen refugee in Istanbul

World Bulletin / News Desk

Sevsen Mustafa Sheikh, a Syrian Turkmen woman from the Bayirbucak district of Syria's Lazkiya, made headlines after she fled the bombardment of her hometown in her wheelchair. Now she is in Turkey's largest city Istanbul waiting for a residency permit, after fleeing across the border to safety.

41-year-old Sevsen, the oldest of six siblings, has been in a wheelchair since the age of two after suffering from an illness, but despite that she never gave up her will to sruvive. She used to live in her youngest brother's house with his wife and four children, where he would look after her. Sevsen however continued to make a living for herself as a tailor.

When the civil war started they fled to a nearby village to escape bombing in Lazkiya, but soon enough the village would also experience its share of bombing, so they decided to move to Turkey and find work.

At first they moved to Adana where her brother found a low paying job that did not provide enough for the household to survive. Sevsen also looked for work but couldn't find a place that would support her wheelchair, so she moved to Istanbul where she is now working as a tailor in the Fatih district.

Sevsen now wants to save enough money to bring her little brother, from who she had never been separated before, to Istanbul.

'I can't live without him. He is the youngest and I am the oldest. I'm like his mother. He also can't live without me. He has for children. This is why I am working. It's all for him,' she told Al Jazeera Turk.

However, Sevsen has had difficulty acquiring an electric wheelchair from her local municipality because of problems getting a residency permit. Without an electric wheelchair she struggles to get to work and back.

She said that she and her family escaped to Turkey under heavy bombardment and therefore was not able to get a stamp on her passport, entering through Hatay. To get a stamp she is required to go back to the Hatay border, but says she would struggle to do so without an electric wheelchair.

As a Turkmen, Sevsen told Al Jazeera Turk that she feels part of Turkey, but is hoping that her residency issue would be sorted out as soon as possible so she can go to work more easily and earn herself an honest living.

Last Mod: 02 Temmuz 2014, 14:29
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