Ziad's pathway to education

“I went to a lot of doctors, they couldn’t cure me, so when I am older, I would like to become a doctor so that I can help others,” says Ziad Ali.

Ziad, is a 10-year-old Syrian child living in Antalya, Turkey. He came to Turkey with his family in 2014 when he was 4 years old and they moved between 3 provinces before settling down in Antalya. Ziad was born with a disability in his legs and has difficulties walking. He has been to numerous doctors both in Syria and in Turkey, but since his condition is very rare doctors have not been able to give him a solution. Despite the difficulties he faces, Ziad has a positive attitude and enjoys being around his friends and family.

Both of Ziad’s parents are agricultural workers in Antalya where they earn enough to just make ends meet for the family. It is not easy for the family to move around with Ziad, and he is not able to go to school without being accompanied by one of his parents. Although Ziad’s father owns a motorbike that he used to take Ziad to school, he was not always able to take time out of his work schedule to do the school runs.

“In the winter when it’s raining and cold outside it’s really hard to go out by bike, or sometimes the bike gets broken and needs to be fixed, so I cannot take him to school,” Ahmad Ali, Ziad’s father says. The bike is also not safe for Ziad since it is difficult for him to balance on it, Ahmad added. 

Fortunately for Ziad, his school is one of the schools that is benefiting from the IOM’s School Transportation Program. The program supports schools across six provinces in Turkey namely Antalya, Adana, Batman, Sakarya, Siirt, and Yalova with free transportation for pupils to and from their school. This year, the program has helped almost 3,689 pupils in Turkey get to and from school with a fleet of 292 school buses.

Since this program started at Ziad’s school, he has been able to attend classes regularly and his parents do not have to worry about his safety while going to school.  Ziad’s mother, Warde is happy that she doesn’t have to worry about her son’s safety. “Ziad enjoys being outdoors and has a lot of friends, so I am glad that he gets to interact with other children despite his disability. Going to school also helps him interact with other children and this has helped him to speak Turkish fluently,” explains Warde.

“When I was going to school by bike the winter rain would make me wet and cold, now the bus picks me up on time in front of our house, it's much better. I love going to school by bus, and I am enjoying school as well,” said Ziad.