Photo: Salwah Mekrsh was shot by a sniper in Aleppo. In this photo, taken in April 2013, she is about to start a mental health consultation with MSF staff in Kilis. Turkey 2013 © Anna Surinyach
“I feel better, but I can’t walk.”
Eighteen-year-old Salwah Mekrsh is unable to walk. Her mother and her sister push Salwah’s wheelchair through the streets of Kilis, a Turkish city near the border with Syria, then enter a small courtyard and stop under the shade of a lemon tree. While Salwah waits for her mental health consultation with MSF to begin, they talk about how their lives have changed.
“Before the war, we used to have everything,” says Salwah, “but since it started we have suffered too much.”
Salwah was pushed into marriage shortly before the first wave of protests in Syria, in March 2011, when she was 15. Soon she became pregnant; her daughter was born just as the country’s strife was becoming an all-out civil war. After her husband tried to assault her, their marriage disintegrated, and he left, taking the baby. “He took my daughter and doesn’t let me see her,” says Salwah. “I have no way to contact them. I haven’t seen my daughter for a year.”