Love, drama and sacrifice predominate on Mother’s Day in Turkey

Mother’s Day is a happy bonding time for many parents and children. For others who have overcome difficulties, it is a time to remember their enduring love.

Some mothers dream of having children taken from them by the terrorist group PKK while others reflect on the happy times spent with children to whom they may not be related by blood, but to whom they are related by mutual love.

For foster mothers, it is a time to rekindle the unexpected bond established with their children despite the absence of biological ties. Adopting children through a project started by First Lady Emine Erdoğan to encourage the practice of fostering was the best decision they ever made, adoptive mothers say.

Yasemin Kavazoğlu, 32, is one of them. The adoptive mother who lives in the central province of Kayseri aspired to have a child for six years before deciding to adopt a boy two years ago. “I went to many doctors for (reproductive treatment) for years and they told me that I would not bear children. Then we adopted Melikşah, when he was only 15 days old Six months later, I got pregnant and now have a daughter. But still, I felt like a mother for the first time when I met Melikşah,” she told Sabah newspaper. on the occasion of Mother’s Day. “You can be a mother without giving birth to a child,” she says.

“I felt devastated before I met him and after adopting him, my mental state is back to normal. I have my biological child now but Melikşah’s place is different in my heart. I’m happy to have him. in my life,” she added. “Mother’s Day meant nothing to me, but it’s amazing now to have two kids celebrating with me.”

For mothers of children with disabilities, Mother’s Day is an emotional yet proud occasion and a time when their devotion is celebrated by others. Mevlüde Kelleci is one of them. The 40-year-old mother of four living in the central province of Sivas spends most of her time caring for her three children with autism and physical disabilities. “They are everything to me. I can’t bear to see them cry. I spend all my time with them because their happiness makes me happy too,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA).

She spends her days taking care of Melih, 13, and her 4-year-old twin sisters, Ceren and Ceylin. “They attend special education classes, but I don’t want to leave them without their mother. I want to be with them all the time so they don’t get hurt,” she said. “I am so happy to mark Mother’s Day with them. I always believed it was a test from God and God knows I can do it. I had a hard time accepting their condition at first but I overcame it. I gave my life for them because I can’t leave them alone. Even going out without them makes me unhappy,” she says.

Nurülhüda Kulabaş is another mother who dedicated her life to her son who suffers from cerebral palsy. Eren is now 34 but Kulabaş never gave up trying to give him a good life. Eren’s childhood was marked by difficulties and these days he is busy with physiotherapy and rehabilitation programs. Every week, the mother accompanies her son to swimming lessons where the young man, unable to walk properly, now manages to swim on his own. “I’ve always been with him. He graduated from high school, but couldn’t find a job,” she says. nothing else. I never leave him alone. I’m so happy that he can swim even though he can’t walk,” she says.

Kulabas said she never stopped helping her son. “I have dedicated my life to her and call on other mothers with children like Eren not to give up the fight.”

Sahile Gümüş, mother of four mentally handicapped children, one of whom also has cancer, has no complaints. “I see other people go on vacation with their children and I’m here with them but I’ve never stopped loving them or caring for them,” the 67-year-old mother, who lives in the area, told AA. the western province of Aydın. “The presence of my children is a source of life for me. I stay strong and I will take care of them until the end of my life. The state offered to take them to a nursing home, but I refused. I will die if I live apart from them,” she said.

Not all mothers are ready to dedicate their lives to their children. Gizem Karaduman’s mother abandoned the family when she was 5 years old. The 21-year-old is now cared for by her aunt Cemile Atik in the western province of Yalova. Atik, a mother of two sons, yearned for a daughter and was overjoyed when her brother’s wife gave birth to Gizem. She was devastated when her niece was diagnosed with autism aged 3 and her mother left her two years later. Her brother was unable to take care of Gizem on his own and when Atik found out that Gizem was going to be taken to a nursing home, she decided to take care of her niece herself.

Gizem suffers from a severe form of autism and is completely dependent on Atik, who for years cared for her like a newborn, dressing and feeding her. “She changed my life,” Atik told AA. “I’m so happy to have her. I’ve taken her everywhere and she’s used to me. My brother wanted to put her in a care home, but I didn’t. We had a fight, we s It was fought over and I did everything to keep her in my care,” she recalls. “I will take care of her as long as I live,” she said.

Mothers of Diyarbakır

Not all mothers are lucky enough to have their children with them on Mother’s Day. In southeastern Turkey, mothers whose children were kidnapped and brainwashed into joining the PKK terrorist organization have been waiting for years to find them.

They are a diverse group, hailing from almost every province in Turkey, but the mothers are collectively known as “Diyarbakır Mothers” after they launched a sit-in in the eponymous southeastern province, outside the headquarters of a political party they accuse of helping the terrorist group.

Ayten Elhaman touches a photo of her son Bayram, who was abducted by the PKK, in Diyarbakır, southeastern Turkey, May 7, 2022. (AA PHOTO)

Since August 2019, they have continued their sit-in strike in Diyarbakır, with their numbers increasing over time. Although this is the third Mother’s Day spent protesting against the PKK, the mothers are determined and have not given up hope of getting their children back. Inspired by Hacire Akar, who reunited with his son Mehmet after organizing the first protest, the resolute group, also joined by fathers, now numbers 285 people.

Their protest bore fruit for three years, with 35 families managing to get their children back. Most had seen the high-profile protest and fled the terror group.

Necibe Çifçi hopes to join families reunited with their children as she marks another Mother’s Day. Her son Rojhat was kidnapped by the terrorist group and forcibly integrated into their ranks when he was 16 years old. Picking up her son’s photo at the protest site in Diyarbakır, she says it’s a bittersweet occasion for her. Çifçi told AA that Rojhat used to give her flowers and other gifts every Mother’s Day before being taken away. Addressing her son once more, she said, “Enough is enough. Please come back. I want you to give me flowers, to make it happy mother’s day again for me.

Ayten Elhaman spent five Mother’s Days without her son Bayram. She remembers the good old days looking at a pair of shoes Bayram bought her. “I want another present from him now and it’s his return. I want him to remember a poem he wrote for me when he was a child. He wrote that he will always love me and that he would give me presents,” she said.

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