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The littlest flutist, Syrian refugee boy
02:29 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

A refugee boy uses a flute to help keep his family fed

He makes about $10 a day in Istanbul, Turkey

He fled from Aleppo, Syria, with his family

CNN  — 

In the busy streets, shoppers and workers rush by the homeless little boy with a flute – some dropping change, but most ignoring him.

Sitting on the sidewalk in Istanbul, Turkey, his head is barely above knee height of the adults around him. But he plays on – for hours, knowing that each coin or note can help his family survive another day.

The flute is a cheap one, but it is key to their struggle. The money he makes – usually about $10 a day – will help feed his mom and four siblings.

The family escaped the horrors of war in Aleppo, Syria, and he says they now live in a park. He does not say which park or if they have a tent for shelter at night.

According to U.N figures, there are about 1 million registered refugees in Turkey, but the country says the total is closer to 1.6 million. Research from the Migration Policy Centre adds that in the last couple of months, there has been another spike as Syrians flee the rise of ISIS.

The boy says he has been in Turkey for about a year.

He plays falteringly and his young face looks innocent, but he knows the cruelty of war. He says his dad died in Aleppo, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting in Syria and is a rebel stronghold that President Bashar al-Assad’s army has attacked.

The boy, who says he is 6, complains that his head hurts and talks of the guns back in Aleppo.

As he plays on, he is relying on the kindness of strangers and watching for police patrols, as begging on the streets is illegal.

When police do see him – this time as he walks back to his makeshift home – an officer confiscates his flute.

But he cannot be kept down. A new flute is $5 – half is daily profit – but if he is to play on, if he is to help feed his family, if they are to have some hope, it’s a small expense.

And tomorrow, he will play again.