Şanlıurfa, 12 December 2022 – Abidülkadir knows everything about wheel balancing. He works in a small auto repair shop in Şanlıurfa in southeastern Türkiye, where he currently lives.
The shop is well-known among the community and beyond because of its wheel balancer – the only one in the district. The young mechanic from Syria designed and built it with his own hands.
Abidülkadir has always had big dreams, among them of one day opening his own auto repair shop with his brother; but not so long ago, he did not think this dream could ever come true.
“I was so desperate to turn my life around that I even considered asking a smuggler to help me reach Europe. Instead, I am now focused on rebuilding my life in my new community,” 33-year-old Abidülkadir explains.
Abidülkadir began working at a very young age to support his family. In 2002, he and his brother left Syria for Qatar to find a decent job.
“That is how my migration journey began – in hopes of a new life and better employment opportunities,” recalls Abidülkadir. “During my time in Qatar, I gained a great deal of knowledge about the auto repair sector. This is the area in which I have specialized and have grown as an expert.”
Although Abidülkadir often felt homesick and worried about his family’s safety, he continued working hard, driven by the desire to secure a decent life for his loved ones.
The outbreak of the conflict in Syria turned Abidülkadir's plans upside down: he returned home to move his family to Türkiye, where they would be safe. Right as they were about to leave, a bombardment started, and a bullet struck him in the head. Miraculously, he survived.
Injured and terrified, the family managed to cross the border. In Türkiye, Abidülkadir received treatment for two months, but doctors couldn't extract the bullet – it was too risky to try and remove it. He had to rely on medication to relieve the pain, but throughout his recovery, he never stopped working to support his family. Eventually, convulsions made him look into finding further medical treatment.
“I went to the Gaziantep Ensar Community Centre to seek medical support. That’s when I learned about the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and was referred to cash grant project applications. I was so interested that I developed a project proposal and applied for a grant.”
Abidülkadir’s self-confidence grew after receiving the grant: he put even more effort into his work and shared new ideas, which soon got him a business partner position in the company he then worked for. As a result, he grew professionally and financially, and found a good work-life balance, which quickly improved his health.
“This job has given me a new lease on life. Before, my body was losing its strength slightly day by day. But now, I have the freedom to adjust my working hours to my health condition,” he explains.
Today, Abidülkadir is sharing the knowledge and experience he has gained while working in Qatar with the Turkish community. His wheel balancing business is a success and the shop receives numerous requests thanks to word of mouth.
To be integrated into society takes time and effort, Abidülkadir says, but he works hard to make his dream a reality for himself and for his family.
“Working with locals has been extremely helpful; I've learned a lot from them, and I am building my own network, which has already led to new job opportunities,” explains Abidülkadir, who looks forward to the day when he and his brother will finally be able to open their own auto repair shop.
IOM and its partners continue to help people like Abidülkadir to become more financially resilient through training and cash grants, with the financial support of the US State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).
This story was written by Begüm Başaran, Communications Assistant with IOM Türkiye, firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Migrants Day (18 December) is the day designated by the United Nations to raise awareness about the challenges and opportunities presented by global migration in all its forms, to advocate for the rights of migrants to be respected, and encourage the international community to work together to ensure migration is managed in a manner that is safe, orderly and dignified.