Turkey's Changemakers: He taught girls how to weave rugs; they weaved life into rug patterns
Özkahraman sold these rugs at fairs and charity bazaars in order to provide a source of income for the girls.The latest episode of “Turkey’s Changemakers” features Enver Özkahraman, who established a rug workshop for young girls in Van.
Enver Özkahraman’s story began when he retired from his post at the Hakkari Rural Services Office, and moved to Van. An amateur photographer and painter, Özkahraman went on a journey to the villages of Hakkari and Van, and noticed the beauty in the traditional art of rug weaving, and in madder, a dye that is obtained from natural herbs and roots collected from the mountains.
In order to ensure the survival of this traditional art, Özkahraman established a small workshop in Van. He began teaching disadvantaged young girls from villages the art of rug weaving. These are girls that were unable to attend school or were forced to migrate to the city. Özkahraman sold these rugs at fairs and charity bazaars in order to provide a source of income for these girls. Over time, the workshop turned into an educational center where girls learned how to read and write and received workshops on maternal and infant health.
The workshop’s fate changed with a documentary called “Girls and Roots,” directed by Ümit Kıvanç. Servet Harunoğlu, who watched a screening of the documentary in 2003 in Istanbul, partnered with Özkahraman to establish the Hisar Anatolian Support Society with the goal of enhancing rug sales. The Society, while increasing the number of its workshops to six and offering courses to 125 girls, is currently planning to establish more workshops to provide hope to a larger number of young girls. Due to the Van earthquake that took place on Oct. 23, 2011, these workshops were damaged and temporarily closed down. The Society reopened two of these workshops a month later.