Story of a Syrian astronaut becoming a refugee in Turkey

Story of a Syrian astronaut becoming a refugee in Turkey

What is the pain of being without a home and without a country? How painful is it to be away from home?

 The answer is in a piece written by Hanzade Germiyanoğlu, whom I am directly quoting below:  

“It has been six and a half years since Sidra left Aleppo. She has walked kilometers, leaving the past behind and the future in a conundrum.”

This Eid el-Fitr is the sixth holiday that she has spent in a Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) container in the Akçakale district of the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, away from home, with a sour taste on her palate. 

She is 16 years old and does not miss wearing new clothes on holidays, but she does miss those days, those holidays when the whole family had serenity, peace and hope.

Let alone being without a country, the fact that their homeland will never be the same as before. The hopelessness is worse than being homeless.

It was only six holidays ago when the family had the sweet daily rush of the pre-holiday period. Their worries would have been about what her grades would be like in her report card and how credit card debts looked like at the end of the month. They would worry over what they would cook for the neighbors in the evening…

This holiday, their only concern is about the future that awaits them. “What about the future? What if the future never comes?” they wonder. 

Her mother was a teacher and her father was a civil servant. Sidra’s story could have been the story of any one of us.

There is also another story, which is much closer to us. It is the story of 66-year-old Muhammed Ahmed Faris who lives in Istanbul’s Kocamustafapaşa neighborhood. He is Syria’s first and only astronaut. He lives in a two-bedroom house with six people.

Faris lived 7 days 23 hours and 8 minutes in space in 1987. He sometimes gives lectures on astronomy and speaks about his one-week stay in space to children at the Küçükçekmece Social Center. He has different kinds of holidays now.

The war that broke out in Syria has caused the death of 470,000 people and the displacement of 12 million people. Nothing has been solved yet, but building the future actually starts now.

Not with the answers we give, not with the analyses we make about the situations, not with the questions we ask, but with the stance we adopt, we are building the future.

For Sidra, for her to have some hope for the future, for all the children who live on this land to have a decent holiday, go and exchange holiday greetings with a neighbor.  

If one of your neighbors is Syrian, go and exchange greetings with them so that we will have peaceful holidays in the future. 

There are 65.3 million displaced people in the world, while a family every three seconds is being displaced…
On an ordinary day in such a world, where 34,000 people are being displaced because of disasters and there are thousands who cannot decide whether to stay or leave.

At this Eid, exchange holiday greetings with your family, neighbors and displaced people, regardless of their identities, countries and backgrounds, in peace. 

I know that an astronaut who has lived in space for seven days and is now a refugee in Turkey can explain a lot of things to us.

May God protect everybody from becoming homeless and being left without a country. With my best wishes for the holidays, let us not forget that even if you go out to space, at the end of the day, you have one home on earth to go back to… Don’t lose it.