By Aimen Nabhani
Starting from October 2017, our volunteers have joined Okmeydanı Sosyal Yardımlaşma ve Dayanışma Derneği, a local community association for social assistance and inclusion, every weekend to help integrate children from diverse and displaced communities. Volunteers first provide homework help, ranging from explaining math problems, helping with English homework, and even working with younger kids to teach them how to read the Turkish alphabet. After the homework club, different volunteers provide creative workshops, ranging from painting, dance, and music.
Many of the attendees of these programs are Syrian or Kurdish, meaning Turkish is a fairly new language for most. Not only do our volunteers help with breaking the language barrier that usually creates an unpleasant atmosphere for students when they get their education, they also, and as part of an ongoing efforts, educate children on self-expression and identity exploration through the art workshops.
We aim to fulfill the children’s highest potentials in terms of education and social inclusion. Each week, about 20 children attend our programs with more than 30 volunteers who help to make this possible since the beginning of our partnership.
Art Workshop Program Manager, Selen reflects on the work we do, “first of all, we provide a different and special perspective to children about different cultures, people and languages. They have met with volunteers who came from different countries to help them and spend time with them. It was important for their future life. They see how different we are but at the same time how beautiful and strong we are with these differences.”
Okmeydanı Derneği has also established a refugee womens community kitchen for local families to support integration and foster entrepreneurship, and we are looking forward to being involved as needed. For now we sell their delicious homemade jam at our office located in Karaköy, and hope to have future collaborative events.
Have an idea for an art workshop or are keen on fostering positive relationships between children from many different backgrounds? Message us on Facebook or comment below!