Miryam Abdullah

Miryam got a legal job via United Work

Miryam Abdullah (34), a single mother with three children, found a legal job in Istanbul through the services of Dutch NGO United Work. “I work at a meat processing factory. Together with four colleagues I work in a refrigerated room next to a conveyor belt on which we process packaged mutton meat and beef.”

The company buys all the meat from abroad. They cut and process it for supermarkets, restaurants, döner kebab joints.

Miryam lives with three children in Esenyurt, a district on the European side of Istanbul, 30 km west of the city center.

She has an appartment with three bedrooms. She pays TL 700 rent. “Thanks to United Work I now earn the legal minimum wage of TL 2020.”.

With overtime she earns TL 2250. I her previous job in a big restaurant, where she worked as a cook, she had a salary of TL 1600. That was netto as she worked illegal and paid no taxes. “My son worked there too. At the end of 2017 I quit my job at the restaurant and stayed at home for four months. Then I saw on Facebook an advertisement from United Work that the Turkish company Bonfilet was looking for workers. I got the job and worked for seven months the night shift from 21.00 tot 06.00 hour. After the government made night shifts illegal I started the day shift, also 9 hours.”

She would prefer to go to the Netherlands. “My husband went to Greece with smugglers. Now he lives in Apeldoorn. Due to all kinds of bureaucratic problems we cannot go to him”, Miryam says.

Her husband has a legal status as a refugee in the Netherlands. “We have one child together and he has two children from a later marriage. But on paper we registered them as our children, because the mother of the two youngest kids died”.

All this happened in Aleppo, Syria. Five years ago they all came to Turkey as refugees. “It was too dangerous because of the war”, she says.

Miryam cannot go tot he Netherlands for a family reunification. When the Dutch authorities checked her dna they discovered that the two youngest children were not hers.

Her job situation improved dramatically thanks to the services of United Work, but her private situation is still very complicated. “The two youngest children, a girl of 14 and a boy of 16, are not in school. They stay home. I have no time tob ring them or take them from school. I leave home at 7 and I return sometimes late at night at 11. In the evening I cook fort hem so that they have food fort he next couple of days. On Sundays I do shopping. The kids are a big responsibility and my greatest concern”.