‘They always got back on their feet again’

For monthly magazine OnzeWereld (OurWorld) I regulary contribute to ‘Around the world’, a series in which every month another theme is reported about by several journalists around the world. For July/August the theme was the question: ‘Who do you take as an example in your life?’. I interviewed Delal Seven, and besides that there were stories from Mali, Yemen, Israel and Brasil.

Delal Seven (30, food engineer) takes her grandmother and grandfather as an example

“My grandfather and grand mother could never really be children. My grandmother, the oldest child, had to take care of the family starting age 12 because her mother died. Granddad was always ‘the man in the house’: his father left for the United States when he was still small. Working hard without complaining turned into their way of survival.

Granddad and grandmom come from a village in the province of Bingöl, in the Kurdish southeast of Turkey. That’s my home. My father was a state employed teacher and for his job we practically moved every year to another part of the country. In the summer we went to Bingöl for three, four months. I always immediately adapted myself to the life there. Herd goats, work in the fields. I loved it.

My grand parents were poor, and especially in the southeast life was tough. In the eighties the armed Kurdish struggle started and it became even more difficult. Many villages were burnt down by the army. Not the village of my grand parents, but many people were arrested and fields and forests were burnt. My grand father has been in jail too for a few months. Every Kurd was a suspect, and my family was especailly watched since my uncle started fighting for the PKK.

I can hardly remember my granddad and grand mom sitting down. They always got up again to do something. They had to. That strength and perseverance is an example for me. I have it too, even though my life is easier than theirs. I went to university and have a job now, but I had to fight for that too. The struggle of my people is also not over yet, that hurts me.

My grandmother died four years ago of cancer. I can still picture it: she sitting down next to her husband, her head resting against his chest, his hand on her head. She was so sick. After her death, my sister and me decided to take our grandfather in to our house and take care of him, here in Istanbul. He can build a house with his own hands, but he cannot cook. In the winter he is with us, in the summer he returns to the village and the neighbors take care of him. Kurdish families find it wonderful that I take care of my grand father now. They even use me as an example for their children.’

Photo: Serkan Taycan

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