Ateş Alpar – Adana
Children who are supposed to read and play with their peers in Turkey are working under very harsh conditions in high-risk jobs. They work as if they are not children. They have to work in jobs that are very dangerous and might cause injury.
Unfortunately, child labour in Turkey cannot be prevented due to two basic reasons: poverty and unemployment. As a result, these children cannot continue their education.
Kani is 13 years old. His parents and five brothers and sisters fled the civil war in Syria together and came to Turkey. He has been collecting paper with his brother in the centre of Adana for three years. “I want to study, I don’t want to work. I want to study and take my family back to Syria”, he says.
Halil is 11 years old. He works in a small rosary making factory. Online education is applied in schools due to the pandemic, so he comes to the factory every day and follows his online lessons whilst he is at work. He sometimes forgets his class hours due to his work and cannot follow his classes properly. Halil says: “I am always tired. I do not have meals since I am tired and I go out to play games in breaks”.
Uğur is 13 years old. He sells cotton candy. He says that he dropped out of school and he has been selling candy in the streets for years. I would like to go back to school, says Uğur, if he had a chance: “Sometimes, I sell cotton candies for 3 liras so that I can spend time with my friends. Normally, I sell them for 5 liras. Also, sometimes, I eat the remaining ones so that I can play games with friends”.
Ismail is 10 years old. He escaped from the civil war in Syria many years ago with his family. He is working to help his family. He dreams of going back to Syria. “I work until the very late hours and collecting paper in the centre of the city is hard”, he says.
Murat is 14 years old. He works in a coffee house in the Hürriyet neighbourhood of Adana which is known as the refugees neighbourhood. He says he is working too hard and too much and most of the time feels tired. Murat says: “Although I am always tired, I still love this job. I have a lot of friends. We spend time together and we go to the beach together in my free time”.
Muhammet (13) and Meryem (10) are siblings and seasonal workers. They came from Urfa to Adana with their families as seasonal workers. They say they are staying in a tent and it is difficult to collect peanuts: “We don’t go to school and I don’t miss school, but I want to get rid of this job”, says Muhammet. Meryem says: “I miss school and my friends very much. I miss playing with Hatice, my beloved cousin”.
Azat is 14 years old. He collects paper from the streets. He is from Mardin but grew up in Adana. He says that he has been collecting paper for years and he has to do it to take care of his family. “I don’t speak Turkish very well, but people laugh at me for that. But I never laugh, they beat me if I laugh. I wish I could study and become a doctor and take care of my mother”, he says.
Umut is 12 years old. He works in a barbershop. He left school to learn that profession and started working as a barber. Umut says: “I love hairdressing. My master loves me too. I do not want to go to school. I do not like it. When I go to school, I always fight. I will be a master in this barbershop”.
Hasan is 10 years old. He collects plastic waste. Hasan explains that his hands got injured whilst collecting plastic. His hands got burned and his mother applied henna to heal the wounds. Hasan says: “I like playing with my brothers and sisters. I hug them and kiss them when I go back home. I wish I never had to go out to collect paper but always could stay with them at home”.