“In 2018, we made the difficult decision to leave our homeland”

I am Harun. I am from Turkey. I am married and the father of 3 kids. I am 34 years old. I have worked for the government in Turkey, as a security expert, a security analyst. I have also worked in Iran for the Turkish embassy for one year as a security advisor. Except for the one year in Iran, I have lived my whole life in Turkey.

About 4 years ago, there was a failed coup in Turkey, and after this coup the government of the Erdogan regime took more than a hundred thousand people in custody. Most of them had to stay in prisons, I was one of them.

It was the 15th of July 2016, and I was working that day. I could’ve died that day actually.

Only three days after the coup they took me into custody and took me to prison. What was my crime? Nothing, I did nothing, but I had a different political opinion to Erdogan and the failed coup was a chance for Erdogan to arrest thousands of people. I was in prison for about 15 months and when I was finally freed, there was a really bad atmosphere in Turkey; I couldn’t find a job, I couldn’t make new contacts, nobody could speak their own opinion. Meanwhile, my wife had the same problem but luckily she didn’t have to stay in prison because of our baby. When I got put in prison my little baby was only 4 months old. Because of the baby my wife was freed. But I know that still now there are hundreds of mothers in prison in Turkey with their babies.

In 2018, we made the difficult decision to leave our homeland. We couldn’t stay anymore. We had to sell our flat to give the money to the smugglers. It was a dangerous journey. The border between Turkey and Greece, it is a river.

The Meriç or Evros river which is the border between Turkey and Greece

It was a dangerous journey but we had to do it. It was March 2018. We passed into Greece but it wasn’t easy. First the smugglers took us to an island since there are many small islands in the river. It was raining that night and we couldn’t really see everything properly. We stayed on the island for a couple of hours and my wife and children started to cry. Then the smugglers came back and took us another way. And we finally came to Greece. We had to stay there for almost 2 weeks and then we could come to the Netherlands. The first 6 months we had to stay in AZC (the asylum seekers center) and then since November 2018 we live in our house in Loosdrecht.

I had heard from my friends about Reach&Teach and then I googled it and I saw your Facebook page. So I decided to apply for English classes and so now I am a student. We are safe here now, our children are happy here and go to school here too. We have a good relation with our neighbors and we have found more opportunities here than we thought. The ‘Nederlanders’ are very open and they accept different cultures. There are also many good organizations for newcomers and refugees, like Reach&Teach and they help us to find a place in society and find a good education or job.

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