Mama Serhildan

Serhildan was a student when ISIS attacked Kobanê in 2014. She first joined the battle, fought, was injured and worked in the orphanage "Alan's Rainbow" after the victory in the city. The children call her "Mama" and even now she keeps her weapon handy.

In Kobanê there is an orphanage with the name "Keskesora Alan" (Alan's Rainbow). The orphanage is named after Alan Kurdî, who came from Kobanê and drowned while fleeing in the Mediterranean. His tiny body was then washed up onto a shore. Now children live in the orphanage, most of whom lost their parents in the war. Most of them are still too young to question why they have no mother and no father. But they know very well that one cannot exist and live without a mother. When adults bring this fact up, it does not affect us any further. However, when a child brings this observation to our consciousness without words, it hurts excessively.

Even as a child you will find reasons for survival for yourself. You must find them. If you do not find them, you cannot live. And the children in the orphanage have found a formula for their motherless existence.

When you visit the orphanage, a big writing on the wall at the playground immediately catches your eye: "Mama Serhildan". Mama is also called "Mother" in Arabic. And who is Serhildan? She is a woman whom all the children call Mama and who has such a big heart that she can be a mom for all children. I have wanted to write about Mama Serhildan for a long time.

Serhildan is a great woman the world knows nothing about. When the ISIS attacked Kobanê in 2014, she was studying pedagogy. She couldn't reconcile watching the war from a distance and being uninvolved. So she put her studies aside and came across the border to Kobanê. She became a fighter and thus a companion of those who wrote a legend in Kobanê. She fought until the war in Kobanê ended with a victory after 130 days. Most people would never experience what she experienced during these 130 days. She was injured within this short period and saw all kinds of death, which brought her closer to the mystery of life. When the fight was over, she stayed in Kobanê. It was not that there was no place to which she could have gone. She did not leave the city because what she had experienced here was enough for a lifetime. She had come because her conscience demanded it of her. That she stayed was her own wish.

And now Serhildan is an educator in an orphanage in Kobanê, the city where she came to fight. The orphans in "Alan's Rainbow" love her so much that they write "Mama Serhildan" on the wall. Serhildan does not mind that the children call her Mama. And the children, who are from different backgrounds, don't wonder how it can be that they have the same mother despite their differences. To understand Serhildan, her experiences and the children, you need a big heart. These children, who do not know their parents' names and do not even remember their faces, now have a common mother: Serhildan, who dedicates her life to the beautiful things.

Serhildan was not only wounded in war. When a fire broke out in the orphanage due to a defective power line, she suffered severe burns while trying to save the children. She was treated for months and still suffered permanent damage. For example, she can no longer move her arms as she used to. The fact that her appearance changed due to the burn scars and she had to stay in hospital for months did not change anything for the children. She is still Mama Serhildan, who is missed and loved even more.

And she is one of the few people in this world that I envy. What wouldn't a person give to be a Mama Serhildan? Even the orphanage is not spared from the effects of the Turkish attacks and when war breaks out here, "Mama Serhildan" will take up arms again to protect her children. She is an injured pedagogue with a handy weapon.

This world is so cruel that small children like Alan are washed up dead on the shore... And this world owes a lot to "Mama Serhildan", a woman who risked her life so that no more children have to die...

May you and your children never be hurt again, Mama Serhildan!

The article first appeared in Yeni Özgur Politika