Hatune Doğan, who emigrated from Mardin’s Midyat district with her family in 1985 and settled in Germany, is now engaged in agriculture in her hometown.
Saying that her longing for the village she left at the age of 15 didn’t cease, Doğan left her life in Europe behind and returned to Midyat last year.
Stating that they had to leave their village at the time, Doğan said, “Now, thank God, we have returned. We built a house for ourselves with my sister. We are very pleased.”
After Doğan built a new house in the village, 16 more families repatriated. Doğan, who practices farming on her father’s land, collects and dries the sumac, which she doesn’t sell but gives to her neighbors as a gift.
“We repair the old houses with those who returned to the village,” Doğan said, adding that they want to plant more and more areas day by day.
She also started working on growing peanuts and grapes in an area of 40,000 square meters.
“I went to Europe, but I grew up here,” she said. “I used to plant, collect sumac and dry grapes, which I really enjoy.”
“Since I was here when I was a child, it was not difficult for me to return, which seems strange to those born in Europe as it would be difficult for them,” she added.
Having graduated from the deacon department at Mainz’s Catholic University of Applied Sciences, the nun traveled to more than 40 countries due to many charity activities in which she participated.
Helping the poor, the patients, the homeless, students and orphans, Doğan learned a total of 14 languages, including Turkish, Kurdish, Syriac and German, as well as English, French, Arabic, Latin and African languages.
Doğan, who has 22 books written in Syriac and German, was awarded by many European institutions, including the United Nations, for her humanitarian aid activities.
Syriacs are an indigenous Semitic-speaking ethnic group and minority of Türkiye, who are Eastern Aramaic–speaking Christians.
They share a common history and ethnic identity, rooted in shared linguistic, cultural and religious traditions, with Assyrians in Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Those in such European countries as Sweden and Germany would usually be Turoyo-speakers or Western Syriacs and tend to be originally from Türkiye.
They were once a large ethnic minority in the Ottoman Empire, living in the Hakkari, Şırnak and Mardin provinces.
The tribal areas that form the Assyrian homeland are parts of present-day northern Iraq, southeastern Türkiye, northwestern Iran, and northeastern Syria.
The majority have migrated to other regions of the world, including North America, the Levant, Australia, Europe, Russia and the Caucasus during the past century.
Hurriyet Daily News