‘Flying Library’ project brings together Syrian, local children in Istanbul

‘Flying Library’ project brings together Syrian, local children in Istanbul

ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
‘Flying Library’ project brings together Syrian, local children in Istanbul

A mobile library with aims to bring local and refugee children together has been receiving great interest at its second stop in Istanbul, in the district of Avcılar.

Here children can come and learn about Turkish, Syrian and world literatures thanks to a partnership between the Goethe Institute, Yuva Association, and Solidarity for Refugees Association.

The library on wheels has become a meeting point for children from the local community and those who fled war in Syria. The library provides a space where they can have fun together and make new friends.

The mobile library was first stationed in the southeastern border province of Mardin in 2015. In 2016, it came to Istanbul’s Sultanbeyli district, where it stayed for nine months. And in the November of 2017, the container library was moved to a park in the Yeşilkent neighborhood of Avcılar, where it initiated 13 workshops for children aged between seven and 14.

“We have organized activities for 328 children directly and 2,000 children indirectly in Sultanbeyli. We have held 13 workshops for children of families considered ‘vulnerable groups.’ We help children with their classes in school and to establish better relationships with their teachers,” Yuva Association Coordinator Ebru Güler said.

“Syrian and Turkish children are here together. It is a place where we can become free, share our thoughts, and build friendships. Children here embark on new journeys regarding all concepts under the theme of friendship. They discover new worlds, new identities,” she said.

Young volunteers, aged between 18 and 23, also help run the workshops. Ezgi Uçak, a psychologist who is in charge of activities of the project at the Avcılar station, said two workshops were organized five days a week with activities aimed at social cohesion and adaptation of children.

Songül Büyükpınar, whose child Nihat Can attends the mobile library in Avcılar, said although they had to walk an hour every day to attend the workshops, Can “waited with bated breath” for the activities.

“Children here gain self-confidence. They feel better about themselves and let go of their school stress here. Nihat has befriended Syrian children, and even if just a bit, is learning a foreign language [Arabic],” Büyükpınar said.

In the “Flying Library,” Turkish and Syrian children participate in specially tailored creative reading activities in Arabic and Turkish, handicrafts and painting workshops, theater classes, and weekly educational film screenings.

Children, who enjoy their time in juggling and acrobatics classes in this mobile library, dress up as clowns and make their peers laugh. Within the “Flying Library” project, physical activities such as circus classes and team games are also offered five days a week to hundreds of children and youngsters.