Rozerin Özçelik runs a grocery store with her mother in the Sur district of Diyarbakır (Amed), a city in Turkey. The economic crisis has affected shopkeepers harshly, she observes. “Nevertheless, in spite of these difficulties, we try to keep living and struggle through”, she adds.
As the economic crisis has deepened, many shopkeepers have gone out of business and the Covid-19 outbreak has had its impact. Statements by the government about current ‘realities’ are increasingly disbelieved.
Rozerin Özçelik, who is amongst the most affected by this, says her store is facing closure, yet it provides the only livelihood for her and her mother.
‘Having the store is thanks to the significant struggles we undertook’
Özçelik has been a shopkeeper for a long time and enjoys the occupation, but acknowledges the struggle to keep the shop running has been hard:
“We have been running this store for around 18 years. Before that, my mother had run it on her own. My sister and I have assisted her ever since we became adults. Now, my mother and I run it. Even having a store is thanks to the significant struggles we have had to overcome”.
Coping under the crisis
“We often have problems with being able to afford all the merchandise for the store. The store is open for 16 hours a day. This is hard work but we are glad to run our own business”.
Özçelik states that solidarity with her mother makes them stronger. “We are the greatest of friends. When I notice that my mother supports me, I become so happy”, she says.
When the ‘Covid-19 outbreak’ affected everyone, the government’s implementation of the lockdown affected their shop as well, and they had to stop trading. Özçelik adds: “My father has been unemployed for years due to poor job opportunities but we have made a living, thanks to our store. My brother was working in a bakery before but when the outbreak occured, he lost his job too”.
During the outbreak, other shopkeepers were placed under similarly difficult conditions, she added.