Uysal: "Personally, inflation hardly affects me because I am not paid in lira. But in my job I see every day how much it increases the existing inequalities."


Uysal is of Kurdish origin and has lived in many places. He lost his job as a teacher with the "purge" after the 2016 coup attempt and now works for an NGO that advocates for children's rights and safety. In the course of his job, he mainly meets people who belong to marginalised population groups. The Inflation is hitting them particularly hard.

Uysal Illustration

"The first months in Istanbul were not easy for me," Uysal says, sighing. Despite or because of the more than 16 million inhabitants in this monster of a big city he felt foreign and lonely. Although constantly surrounded by its inhabitants on the ferry, in the metro buses, underground and suburban trains, Dolmuş and in the streets, at the end of the day he was all alone in his small flat. Nowhere had it been as difficult for him to arrive and get adjusted to as in Istanbul. In addition, Uysal had already lived in many places: born in Siirt in 1990 in a Kurdish family, he was raised in Kastamonu. Later he moved from Konya to Antalya, Midyat, Mardin, Batman, and then to Viranşehir and now Istanbul.

"The reason for having to move so often was my job. I work for the non-governmental organization Save the children in the fields of mental health and psychosocial support. Before I had  actually been teacher, but after 2016 I was fired for no reason." Uysal was one of the many civil servants who lost their jobs after the coup attempt against the Turkish government. The reason given: links to terrorist organizations.

Today Uysal laughs about it: "The accusations were groundless. I was an English teacher with no political connections. But "unfortunately" also a Kurd." In this situation of uncertainty he looked for an/ a task occupation that seemed meaningful to him: Almost every day he drove from Mardin, where he lived at that time, to a refugee camp near the Syrian border. He brought balls, skipping ropes and other toys and spent time with refugee children. This eventually helped him get his new job.

He now works in the Esenyurt district of Istanbul, where many refugees live. With the loss of value of the lira more and more people now have to meet needs that have remained the same with much less money. An impossibility. The gap between rich and poor and the polarization in society keep growing. People who are already belonging to marginalized and disadvantaged groups of population (Kurds, refugees) are particularly affected. Discrimination, racism and capitalism go hand in hand here. Children would have to start working. Save the Children tries to prevent them from having to do so -  for their benefit.

In his own neighbourhood he observes more solidarity and collaboration among people: they give away discarded clothes and take care of the neighbour's children when needed. Personally, Uysal does not feel the inflation of the lira in his lifestyle as the INGO pays him in US dollars. His salary is worth almost twice as much lira as it was the year before.

When he had almost given up on Istanbul as a city worth living in, he moved to Kadıköy in a last attempt in September 2021. Here, Uysal's initial feeling of loneliness disappears. He began to feel at home in the city of millions. He attends many creative and artistic events that the district has to offer: opera, theatre, clown workshop, dancing and concerts. He feels closer to the people here, perceives them as open, progressive and respectful. He can pursue his interests and meets like-minded people.

"But I don't want to live here forever. Too many people," says Uysal. He can imagine moving back to eastern Turkey, project-linked to his job. He is also considering migration to Europe if the political and inflationary economic situation in Turkey continues to worsen.

Because that would immensely restrict his idea of freedom, namely the possibility to exchange thoughts freely and to be allowed to adopt and express different points of view. For him, being free means choosing his own future. He wishes for more beauty and less violence in the world. This includes toleration of diversity and the possibility to express and live it: be it in parties, clubs or among friends.