Family struggling to survive gets help after Arti Gercek’s news article

Family struggling to survive gets help after Arti Gercek’s news article
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Grandmother and six grandchildren were forced to live in a rusty truck in Diyarbakir.

By Rojhat Abi

A grandmother and her six young grandchildren have been living in the rusted shell of a truck in Diyarbakır for four years after their home was damaged during government curfews imposed on the city in 2015.

Hanim Demir, 59, found her home in the Sur district uninhabitable during the unrest. With her son imprisoned and her daughter separated, she took in her six children, who now range in age from 8 to 16. Unable to afford repairs, the family moved into a truck box in Seyrantepe.

The makeshift shelter has no electricity or water. In the winter, the uninsulated metal box gets bitterly cold, and rain leaks through, making the children constantly sick. Demir, who has asthma, cannot afford medication. With no income other than a small welfare check, they rely on neighbors for help.

All six children are out of school, with the older ones taking menial jobs like seasonal hazelnut picking to earn extra income. They briefly stayed in government dormitories but complained of mistreatment. Their circumstances are dire, and their future is bleak.

Demir despairs: “Our house was destroyed. We asked the authorities to help us repair it, but they did nothing. When I went to social services for help, they asked me who I voted for. I’m just trying to take care of my six grandchildren alone. Everyone should hear my voice.

After the family’s plight was publicized in the Arti Gercek, representatives from the Directorate of Family and Social Services visited to register the children for school enrollment and help. Individuals and groups across Turkey and Europe also donated food, goods, and money.

The local Mukhtar Association has pledged to fully repair the damaged house so the family can return to their home. The Mukhtars consider it a civic duty to help families in need.

The Mukhtars' compassion and commitment have given hope, but the grandmother and grandchildren are still struggling to rebuild their lives after displacement.