Resilience Amidst the Ruin in Türkiye.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Tülay and her two children, Cihan and Hilal* from Türkiye. Both children had cochlear implants fitted at a young age. When they broke, Tülay and her husband had no money to replace them. For more than two years, the children couldn’t hear, had trouble learning, and became distant from their friends. 

Cihan (11) and Hilal (16) couldn’t understand their family or friends and became withdrawn, spending hours alone in their rooms.

Then 12 months ago, the family’s home was rocked by two massive earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria. 50,000 were killed and 2.7 million people were displaced, including Tülay and her children.

The dual earthquakes killed over 50,000 people in Türkiye and Syria and injured a further 100,000. Photo: Jordi Matas / Save the Children.

“After the earthquake, my kids didn’t go to school because they didn’t have devices. They couldn’t understand, hear or speak. It was a big problem both for me and for their teachers,” the children’s mother, Tülay says.

When Save The Children dropped a care package of household goods and toys at Tülay’s temporary home, Tülay described the challenges her children faced. She and her husband had saved just enough money for one implant and were struggling to decide which child to help first.

Save The Children supported Tülay and picked up the bill to get hearing devices fitted for Cihan and Hilal so they could reconnect with their friends and get back to school.

Cihan, Hilal and their siblings lost their home in the 2023 earthquakes hit Türkiye. Photo: Ayşe Nur Gençalp / Save the Children.

Three months since their hearing implants were fitted, the children have experienced dramatic improvements. They’re happier than they’ve been in years.

Tülay says the devices have had a huge impact on Cihan and Hilal’s quality of life. Both children can hear and communicate with other family members, and love spending time together.

“My children are very happy. They get what I say, and I get what they tell me.” 

Tülay’s middle child, Yasemin,* says, “my sister had her device put on and she’s able to talk now.”  Describing her little brother, she adds “before the devices were fitted, we couldn’t understand each other very well. Now we draw pictures together, play Jenga, and when we play games, he is very smart and shares everything with me.”

While things have dramatically improved, the earthquakes have left a mark on the family that’s still palpable one year on. Displacement, disruption to routine and financial pressures are a heavy burden for families facing compounding crises like these.

Tülay is determined to support her children to study and help others in the future. “My kids are my number one priority,” she says.  And with the recent addition of the cat ‘Gece’ to the family, who shares a unique bond with the children due to her hearing impairment, their home is filled with even more joy and love.

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership.

*Names of the children were changed to protect identities.