Nilgun Ciba (in black) from Turkey, with her husband from Abkhazia, Aytur Ciba, and his sister Ayfer Ciba. Nilgun's son Derin and her daughter Dorasu.
Born in Turkey, Ayfer Ciba and her brother Aytur moved to the UK in the 1990s, joining the rest of their family who had been living here since the 70s.
Ayfer: My family emigrated from Abkhazia at the end of the 18th Century. Despite living in the UK for a long time, we still try to hold onto our language and culture. This evening, for example, we’re cooking Abkhazian food for Dora’s birthday and sometimes we speak Abkhazian to each other. As much as we try to protect our culture, we also enjoy having a good connection with other cultures.
Ayfer: I first went back to Abkhazia at the end of October last year. It was so exciting, I just felt straightaway like it was my home. People asked me if I liked the country, to which I’d reply: “I’m not here as a tourist, this is my country so it doesn’t matter if I like it or not, this is where my home is”.
However, Ayfer says that to go back there to live would take some adapting time. “The feeling of home and culture is in your heart wherever you go,” she says. “It doesn’t matter where you’re living. I don’t need to show my culture to anyone, but I do want my homeland.”
Nilgun: I came here in the year 2000 to try and learn English as an au pair and I stayed here for two years before returning to Turkey. Whilst I was here I met my (now) husband and decided to stay here. My husband was living here already. However, because of my visa issues, I had to go back to my country for a few years until we were married.
Now they have two kids. In terms of identity, Nilgun says the children consider themselves first and foremost proudly Abkhazian. “They’ve got used to the English culture, and also have a little Turkish culture around them from my side,” she adds.
Nilgun: In my mind, I feel that Turkey is my home because all my family is there. My immediate family, however, is all here in the UK. You will always miss your home country, which is why we consider moving back there regularly.