AJ WITNESS: City life is destroying rural Turkey and forcing the elderly to fend for themselves


We follow an elderly couple in rural Turkey who refuse to abandon village life amid rapid urbanisation.

Villages across Turkey are seeing their youth disappear as the bright lights of Istanbul lure them with the prospect of a better life.

The tiny village of Ardicalan in Sivas province has seen its population plummet to just 48 people, as its younger residents leave for greater employment opportunities in urban areas.

Left behind are elderly parents, many of whom live a lonely and difficult existence.

In East of Istanbul, we meet Naci and Sefika Boztepe who have refused to leave their picturesque village out of a sense of duty and love for their traditional way of life.

We join them as tend to their farm, look after their animals and, every so often, bake bread to send to their children who have left for Istanbul.

Naci and Sefika Boztepe live in a beautiful but shrinking village with a population of only 48 people [Tulin Tezel/Al Jazeera]


By Tulin Tezel

For those of us living in big cities, we often forget to stop and feel the richness of the soil in the countryside.

The soil in rural Turkey is tough but it has its own language, just like the city has its own language. Not all city-dwellers are able to understand this ‘language’ because it has been long forgotten.

These days people living in urban areas only know the value of ‘time’ which has made them estranged to the natural wonders around them. And over time, they have forgotten the true value of soil.

Around the industrialised world, rural depopulation has been happening for 250 years, while in Turkey it has taken place in the last five decades.

As a result of this internal mass migration over a short period of time, Istanbul has become one of the densest cities in the world. Villagers, who did not previously know anything except farming and agriculture, have had to adapt to new city rules.

In East of Istanbul, we look at the life of married couple, Naci and Sevika, who live in the small village of Ardicalan, with a population of 48, located in Sivas province.

Many of Sivas’s residents have move to Istanbul and never return.

But Naci and Savika are determined to hold onto life in the village. Naci often refers to the city as “Gurbet” meaning the “Foreign Land.” But as his village empties, the couple find themselves increasingly isolated.

They show affection to the soil instead of their children. The more they show affection, the more Mother Nature gives them.

Although life is difficult and lonely for the elderly couple, they remain in the village out of a sense of duty and love for their traditional way of life.

Source: Al Jazeera


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