Syrian heart surgeon sweeps floors to survive in southern Turkey

Syrian heart surgeon sweeps floors to survive in southern Turkey

KİLİS – Anadolu Agency
Syrian heart surgeon sweeps floors to survive in southern Turkey

Wasim Neshtli’s comfortable life as a heart surgeon in Aleppo was turned upside down during the war. He now struggles as a cleaner in Kilis to sustain his family, like tens of thousands of refugees taking shelter in Turkey. AA photo

As the civil war in Syria rages on, refugees who fled to southern Turkey are searching for small jobs to make a living, just enough for to sustain their families. Wasim Neshtli, a refugee who settled in the southern Kilis province, right across the border, is among those Syrians whose lives have been shattered. 

Neshtli was forced to leave his prestigious job as a heart surgeon in Aleppo along with his wife and two children after his house was damaged due to intense bombings. With his wife, also a university graduate, Neshtli was living a comfortable life. But the conditions they are now exposed to offer a glimpse into the tragedy of what the refugees are experiencing once arrived in Turkey. Neshtli 
owned a villa and had two cars – almost a luxury in a country where the average income was way under the Western standards, even before the war. 

Today, he works as a cleaner at an office for some 600 Turkish Liras – less than $300 – to provide for the most basic needs of his family. 

“I used to own a villa, two cars. I lost everything in the war. I only took a jacket and fled to Kilis with my family. Unfortunately, I also lost my diploma too. So, I can’t do my job either,” Neshtli says.

“I stay here with my relatives but 15 people live in the house. So I need to make a living in order to move into another house. My wife does not work but I am still thankful for my situation,” he adds. 

Not giving up hope

Neshtli says he has started studying Turkish and anticipates working at the hospital in Kilis where he could give medical assistance to injured Syrians transferred every day from across the border. “But nobody is convinced as I don’t have a diploma anymore,” Neshtli says.

His two children are enrolled in a Turkish primary school, which brings a certain normality to the family. Despite their lives being turned upside down, Neshtli says that he has not given up hope yet. “I still believe that I will be back to my country, performing my profession once again,” he says. 

There are more than 600,000 refugees in Turkey according to official numbers while scores of Syrians continue to enter Turkey every day. Most of the refugees are settled in camps in southern Turkey, but the number of those who come to big city centers is also increasing every day. 

Numerous Syrian families can be spotted now even in the center of Istanbul, begging for help as some of the oldest areas of the city, especially those where there are evacuated houses, are turning into makeshift refugee camps.