Duran, 63, had a quiet life in his village in Lattakia Province and was working as a civil servant until his friend asked him to assist his beekeeping business. At first, it was only a hobby for Duran, but he was impressed by the profession: “Producing organic and healthy nutrient like honey was very valuable to me. I was taking care of 100 hives at home”.
This experience did not last long because of the conflict started in Syria. As many other Syrians, Duran’s home and business destroyed and they had no choice but to flee to Turkey. At their arrival, Duran and his family settled in Islahiye camp in Gaziantep and lived there for six years. He says, “It was ok, but we couldn’t have our own space”.
But by 2018, things started to change. Closure of the Islahiye camp caused Duran and his wife to move to Islahiye village, while one of his sons moved to Sweden and the other two to other Turkish cities for work. In Islahiye, Duran kept working in different seasonal jobs such as carpeting and beekeeping as well, but he always dreamed to establish his own business. A year later, he heard about IOM’s Agricultural Project which aimed to help Syrians to be trained in agriculture and to help them start their own agricultural activities. Duran signed up for a project and got training from an agricultural engineer. After completion of the training, Duran started up his beekeeping business with nine beehives “I felt very happy”, he said. “I really wanted my own beehives like the ones I had in Syria, but I couldn’t afford it. This training made me feel more stable and secure”.
In couple of months, he was able to produce 25 kilos of honey which is considered as a good start for beekeeping. His first customers were family members and neighbors.
Currently, he owns 16 beehives, but keep working towards to have more of them, “I am planning to expand my business and have about 50-60 hives next year, so I can have my own farm just like the one I had in Syria and train others. I am 63 but I still have the energy to achieve what I am dreaming of”.
Photoreportage: August 2019 ©Nadine Al Lahham