Interview # 04 - Mohamed Ahmed

  1. What are some daily challenges and difficulties refugees face every day? Could you describe the daily life of a Syrian Refugee in the South of Turkey?
    • Language Barriers: Many Syrians lack basic comprehension skills (i.e. Turkish) to communicate effectively with locals making accessing essential goods and services difficult. Even when work opportunities are available for those living in campsites it is challenging for most to communicate clearly with their counterparts, be it professional or labor work.
    • Employment: Statistically speaking most of the Syrians living in those camps are of working age. However, they find it difficult to pinpoint a working opportunity quickly due to their legal status as refugees. This worsens their humanitarian case, gets them into even greater poverty, and makes them more dependent on subsidies and charities.
    • Education: Due to the lack of adequate infrastructure and enough volunteers, children of school age are not getting the education they need to go into college and excel in life.
    • Psychological Challenges: Due to the civil war in Syria, many of those who were able to flee safely are still suffering the traumas they have undergone to reach the camp. Moreover, many feel this deep anguish and sorrow, maybe even belittled by how humiliating being considered a refugee is. These, among others, of experiences eventually lead to mental health issues that are usually left unaddressed due to limited support services.
  2. What is your NGO trying to do and how?
  3. Our NGO is focused on improving the quality of life for refugees in the South of Turkey. Among our other endeavors would be recruiting volunteers to help provide medical services, mental assistance, education for youngsters, etc.

  4. What infrastructure issues do refugees and refugee camps face? How would you place this issue in terms of priority?
    1. In order of priority, they are as follows:

    2. Overcrowding: The size of the individual tents/camping facility provided for the refugees is almost always inadequate. This leads to having limited living space and comebacks.
    3. Water and Waste Management: Many refugees in the campsite have limited access to clean water, contributing to poor hygiene. This could lead to various hygiene-related health problems/illnesses. Furthermore, waste management is poorly handled and builds up quickly. Sometimes it would be weeks before a landfill truck would pick it up. This could lead to various airborne diseases and undesired pests/parasites. People would resort to lighting the waste on fire to eliminate built-up waste, worsening the situation even more.
    4. Energy and Electricity: The electrical supply extended to the camp is often unreliable, and power shortages are pretty standard. In extreme weather conditions, this could lead to refugees being unable to use their heating or cooling appliances. This also contributes to crippling the functions we are trying to conduct on-site.
  5. How do you feel about self-reliant homes that are easily moved and produce energy in the context of refugee camps?
  6. Our NGO always seeks solutions with two main requirements: (1) cost-effectiveness and (2) energy efficiency. Homes that provide adequate living space utilizes each square foot of space available. If such homes can produce their energy and provide their inhabitants with clean sanitary water, that would be fantastic! These would have the potential to impact refugee camps positively. They could also be mobile, easily assembled and disassembled, and self-reliant would make a better proposal for our board of directors. The best part for me here is that these homes could alleviate the burden on traditional infrastructure by integrating renewable energy solutions.

  7. What challenges would we face if trying to deploy this concept? Have there been other similar ideas presented to you?
  8. The idea is excellent, very much needed, and quite promising. However, a few challenges come to mind, including cost, scalability, and cultural acceptance. The initial investment in such homes could be higher. However, this could be easily overcome if we could address the cost-effectiveness angle of this initiative. For instance, if these homes could outlive the ones being used on-site by at least five years or so, that could be convincing to the board.

    Another thing would be how many cost cuts it could create in the long run. All of these would support the idea from a business case point of view. Another challenge that needs to be considered would be the proper maintenance and technical support for these homes is crucial to their long-term success.