Afghan doctor working with migrants in Türkiye wins int’l award

Afghan doctor working with migrants in Türkiye wins int’l award

Afghan doctor working with migrants in Türkiye wins int’l award

An Afghan doctor who studied medicine in Türkiye has been awarded the “International Women of Courage Award” for her work with migrants.

Zakira Hekmat, the founder of the Afghan Refugees Solidarity Association, is a physician who has been working with migrants for 14 years.

After high school, Hekmat received a scholarship from Türkiye and moved first to Ankara and then to Kayseri, where she passed the university exams and graduated from Erciyes University Medicine Faculty.

Hekmat said that although the state provided her with accommodation and a scholarship, she had a very difficult time learning a new language in a different country.

While speaking to journalists, Hekmat expressed that she wanted to work with Afghan refugees in her first year at university, thinking that if she had so much trouble even though she came to Türkiye with many privileges, what about refugees who are not as privileged and come with nothing in their hands.

At the beginning of Hekmat’s work with migrants, she and her spouse decided they could offer language courses on weekends and evenings.

After the Van earthquake in 2011, Hekmat founded the Afghan Refugees Solidarity Association. In 2017, with the increase in the number of Syrian refugees, they started working with Syrians and locals as well.

She said that, currently, they are working with 160 volunteers in 62 provinces and have helped over 110,000 people with translation support, counseling and efforts to increase women’s employment rate and social cohesion.

She added that when the earthquake occurred on Feb. 6, they went to the southern province of Kahramanmaraş with a volunteer search and rescue team.

The association also launched blood donation campaigns in 62 provinces and donated medicine.

She stated they also have a project to provide two months of rental support and groceries to 320 refugee families affected by the earthquakes.

“I received the award from U.S. first lady Jill Biden. I am very happy and honored that my work has been appreciated,” she said.

Hekmat also asked for a Turkish flag, along with her country’s flag, at the White House ceremony, saying that both of them are her homeland.