And I passed by the coast, where I crossed the cities of Antalya and Mersin where other camps were settled … I passed rocky mountains, coastal roads following the curve of the lands falling into the Egean See …

I slept three hours by three hours as I used to, to keep moving and to not lose the rhythm but even though … Turkey is a huge country … and I experienced it for long hours of driving …

I arrived at the school at Gaziantep late evening … I was naked, stinky and the only thing I needed was a bed and a shower.

I went straight to sleep after a little talk and presentation with Sabina, the head of administration and founder of the Salam school.

She’s a 35 years old young and energetic woman that could inspire a bunch of people.

What she basically did was to rent some flat here to host some syrian she knew, and then, when they realized that they had together the possibility to share their knowledge and to spread their goodness around in the decaying neighbourhood of the city, they start the incredible challenge of driving a refugee school by themselves.

Somehow to run a project like this one by yourself might be completely crazy and I don’t know how Sabina is managing to sleep as there’s soo many things to think about :

– Planning the lessons through the weeks with the different professors across the several floors of the school (which are basically 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor flats of the building) each professor of the Salam School have different lessons they’re teaching and different level of students they’re specialized to teach to but most of them were finally teaching to the 150 children all along the week.

– Taking care of the kids and their needs depending on their age, classes, families, social background etc … this wasn’t like a proper lesson as we use to givnormal schools but of course here the situation was completely different and following up the improvment of the students and their families as they get better (or worse), was a big thing to do. To make sure that the kids were in a good conditions to improve (making their life back home better, dealing with their family problems sometimes, making sure that their parents were OK etc …) was something crucial as the meaning of the school was to enable these kids to get clever and clever and to improve their life in the long run.

– Beside of the basic work of preparing the lessons, organizing the classes etc … Making sure that the school life was going well was something again incredibly time consuming as you had to look after many different things from the food supplies to the school furnitures, paying the rent to the three flats, paying the teachers and solving their problems if they had (as they’re refugees as well),  dealing with the money to make the school sustainable …

And more than these daily tasks, more specific things were of course happening that you couldn’t predict … like going to meet families, going to make profiles of new kids coming in the school, saying goodbye to the one who’re leaving to europe with their family etc … and personnaly, spending a week in the school and seeing all the work that has to be done on a day to day base was overhelming and mindblowing … something that I couldn’t do by myself.

But it seems like Sabina get used to it, and I never met a person so calm a gentle given the amount of stressfull questions and tasks she was facing everyday.

Of course she was surrounded by the school team, Akran and his family, Eva, Laure, Shareen, and all the other teachers .
Most of them where living in the building in the flats as they didn’t had any other places to go, any other way to sustain their families and as everyone was living in the same place, the salam school was for more like a family than a school.
Of course we all had our little space to rest and our privacy (the cultural differences between us were still strong and I think the privacy allowed us to deal with these differences and to leave and work together in harmony) …

And I enjoyed being part of this community, this group of good people, of friends and brothers, sisters, wife and children … This was like discovering a part of your own people that you never met before and I felt quite concerned about the whole …

And I think I couldn’t stay in Gaziantep without their support … The city was something too intense…
The town is the last one before Syria and even it’s still in Turkey, I felt like under pressure all the time. As if the war was happening here as well …
In the neighbourhood, it wasn’t rare to hear gunfights around, people shouting, arguing, fighting etc … That was somehow part of the daily life and you had to deal with it. You had to work through the tension … The fear of being robbed, beaten or whatever as the unsafeness of the area was as present as the smoke coming from the trashes and the dirty streets.
And you could feel the pressure and the presences of the war here … Isis was all around without any tangible proof of their presence but we knew they were here, like ghosts doing their business … Quietly, gently but as surely as the Isis governmental prison in front of our place was full of them.
And you could tell that half of the people you would cross on the streets was Syrian.
They were everywhere … Working, asking for help in the streets, selling cigarettes, tissues anything …
To live there as a refugee was a struggle… Many families could not afford to waste their time to educate their kids and they all had to work … Many of the children I’ve been talking to at school were either working after classes or left their work to focus on their studies … And most of them were not more than 9 years old …
You could then ask yourself how would you feel to be obliged to work ten or twelve hours a day to earn jut enough to struggle surviving … A six years old boy shouldn’t have to be harming his health working in the smoke of the companies and shops to live.
I couldn’t understand how the boss of these shops could sleep at night employing these children and fooling them, making money out of their difficulties.

Still, knowing the facts … We, at school, couldn’t interfere too much and to be too present in these people life even if we wanted so … As we weren’t allowed, as we could not sustain all of their problems … As the school was here mostly to give them education and to enable these kids to improve their life by themselves.

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