From Businessman to Garbage Collector on Istanbul’s Streets

Syrian refugee forced to collect garbage after losing his money and family in the wake of falling victim to a scam in Turkey's north

Syrian businessman Nader Ibrahim, who speaks five languages, has been forced to collect trash in the streets of Istanbul after his savings were stolen from him following an attempt to set up a business in Turkey.

Ibrahim, who has Albanian roots, had traveled to Morocco to study economics after completing his primary and secondary education in Aleppo.

During his stay in Morocco, Ibrahim mastered the French and English languages, later learning Italian and Spanish while visiting the two countries, before returning home to set up two businesses in Syria.

The developing situation in Syria pushed Ibrahim to leave his work in 2012, to escape with his family with a “good” amount of money, Ibrahim told the Turkish newspaper Milliyet.

Relating his story, Ibrahim said: “We escaped, my family and I, from Syria because of the shelling, and stayed in a house like a hotel for a full year. After that I fell victim to a scam, and all my money was stolen on the pretext of starting a business. They stole my money and left me in Edirne province.”

After his money was stolen, Ibrahim spent what remained of it moving through several Turkish provinces looking for work, he said, and when he lost hope he sent his wife and children to Lebanon, where he has relatives. It was after this that Ibrahim started collecting rubbish. He added: “When some good people heard my story they brought me a cart and advised me to collect garbage.”

According to Ibrahim, “I go out every day in the morning and start collecting trash. I get between 50 and 100 Turkish lira ($16-$33) a day.”

The Syrian man added: “I miss my family a lot. My son Youssef, I miss him the most. My daughter has been sick for a while, and I want nothing other than to see them.”

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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