Refugee camps at capacity
Before the uprising, Zier owned a bakery. After he joined the opposition, he said, he was shot by government forces last spring. It took him two days to get to Turkey for an operation.
He said he wishes that his wife could travel here to care for him, but Turkey’s refugee camps are at capacity, there is not enough space at the recovery center for the family to live, and he cannot afford to pay rent. Sometimes his wife calls with updates of where she and their two young children have moved within Syria in search of safety.
“I cannot provide for them,” Zier said. “A lot of times, I think it would be better if I died than to be in this situation.”
Across the hall lives a 10-year-old boy with a mischievous grin who said he was hit with shrapnel during an air attack by government forces in northern Syria more than three months ago. He has been at the recovery center for two months and now races along the short hallway in a wheelchair.
His roommate is a 42-year-old mother of eight who said she was shot in the back by a Syrian army sniper more than a month ago. She came to Turkey for surgery and arrived at the recovery center last week. “I just hope I can walk again after all of this,” she said through tears. “I just want to see my children.”
Hopes of a miracle
On the second floor, in a room painted pink, lives a 12-year-old girl named Maysa who said she was shot in the lower back by a government sniper four months ago just outside her two-room home in Kafr Rouma, a small village in Idlib. Maysa cannot feel or use her legs, but her mother sits on her bed each day and massages her feet in hopes of a miracle.
Maysa’s father, a construction worker, also was shot that morning and died. Her mother carried her to a makeshift hospital near the village, but that, too, was attacked. Unable to return home, the woman and her children hid in a nearby cave.
A month later, rebel fighters found the family. Maysa’s wounds had begun to smell and she had stopped talking, her mother said. The rebels agreed to watch the other seven children, who range in age from 5 to 14, while the mother smuggled her daughter into Turkey for medical treatment. That was three months ago, and the mother doesn’t know where her other children are or whether they are safe.
Living at the recovery center after surgery, Maysa began to speak again. She is also starting to realize how her life has changed. The girl with inquisitive brown eyes and a short bob of dark hair now wears a diaper and is carried up and down the stairs.
“I don’t know what will happen in the future,” her mother said. “She doesn’t have a father now. They destroyed our home. I have seven other children. I will have to take care of her. . . . I don’t know. I don’t know.”