ORDU - Milliyet
Workers from eastern and southeastern Anatolia have appeared in the press lately with stories of their difficult experiences in Ordu. Workers who went to Ordu, in the Black Sea region, to gather hazelnuts will not be able to return their homes when they complete their work. Instead, from Ordu they will head to Turkey's southern province of Çukurova. The seasonal workers left their homes almost seven months ago and have maintained a migratory life by sowing watermelon in Çukurova and hoeing sugar beet in the central Anatolian town of Kayseri. They have been harvesting lentils and peas in the central Anatolian provinces of Kırşehir and Konya since then. What is left from a 10 months' journey away from home will be health problems, never completely paid wages and missed classes for children whose parents worked in the fields like slaves.
Off to work in February
The Black Sea region is not the first stop of workers from the East who tilled the hazelnut fields of Ordu in August. Workers who could not find jobs in southeastern cities like Şanlıurfa, Diyarbakır and Batman began their journey with their families to earn their bread in Çukurova, beginning in February. The first job of those who set off from their homes was to sow watermelon in Adana. After staying there for two to three months, workers moved to sugar beet fields in Kayseri. Despite cold weather and tent life, workers lived on the rural lands for months. The next address of seasonal workers was the Kırşehir or Konya in June, where they gathered lentils and peas. The workers spent two months there as well, before they set off for the hazelnut fields of Black Sea cities in August. The workers' journey then ended where it began, in Çukurova. In spite of the troubling journey, which meant accommodation in tents near water canals during cold weather and struggles with ticks and scorpions, workers got little money and most of the hard-earned money was spent on transportation and food. Thus their expectations are deferred for the next spring, when the journey for bread will begin again.Families from Şanlıurfa are among those who logged many miles to work. Despite an accommodation ban near water canals that is being applied this year, families from Şanlıurfa put up a tent city near a water canal in Ordu's Efirli region. Because the region is under a flood threat because of its climate, the gendarmerie tried to prevent accommodation in those areas.
No money left despite a difficult journey
Despite the difficult journey, saving up money does not seem possible for seasonal workers. Each family has six or seven children. Melike Demir, 35, hit the road nine months ago by obtaining permission for her children to miss school. “We sow watermelon in Adana. They said they would give our money but had not given half of it claiming that watermelons are parched under sun. Is this our guilt?” she lashed, revaling the difficulties her family lived with during their travels. “Scorpion stung my son in Yozgat; we hardly moved him to hospital. While we were coming to Ordu from Yozgat, we almost died of airlessness at the back of the truck. I cut a little piece from the canvas of the truck to get air. However, the driver wanted the cost of the canvas, which was YTL 200, and half of the money we earned was paid to that. Later we took the canvas of the truck and turned it into a tent. We will go back to home in autumn; however there is no money left,” she noted.
‘It is better to die'Perihan Kurtal, 23, said she was also fed up with the travel, but acknowledged there was no other hope. She nursed her four-month-old daughter, Nurcan, on the roads. She is so bored with the travel that she even didn't want to tell it. Even if one dies, it is better than this life,” she said. Women who work in hazelnut fields together with their husbands in early hours of the morning, struggle with preparing meal and doing dirty dishes when they return to their tent in the evening. Later they prepare for the next travel to hazelnut fields situated in the mountains.