Turkish NGO provides education for refugee children in makeshift tents
İdris Emen – İZMİRThe Imece Initiative, a non-governmental organization working mostly with Syrian refugees in the western province of İzmir, has started to provide education for refugee children who do not have access to school, by setting up makeshift tents.
As part of the “Makeshift Tent” project, the NGO has been visiting various regions and villages where Syrian agricultural workers mostly live five days of the week, setting up tents in these places. Thanks the organization’s workshops the children are learning how to read and write in Turkish and Arabic.
The NGO has been active for the last three months in the Çamanönü village in İzmir’s Menderes district. About 180 Syrian families live in the village, where greenhouse cultivation has also been initiated intensely.
The refugee children wait anxiously every Saturday morning for a bus of the NGO to come to their village.
While some of the NGO workers set up the tents, the others dress themselves up as clowns to play with the kids.
About 30 children aged between seven and 12 sit around a table set up on a field of olive trees, where two NGO volunteers give Turkish and Arabic language classes.
The children have been receiving education in this tent for the last three months and have almost mastered the two languages. Apart from language education, the children are also given mathematics lessons. They have also improved their motor skills thanks to workshops on handicrafts and painting.
“Since the kids know that we come every Saturday, they wake up early in the morning and ask their mothers to dress them up in their nicest clothes. When they see us arriving in the village, they come running to us. We have been coming for the last three months and holding workshops for the kids. Every time we come, we see more kids,” Imece Initiative workers said.
“Since most of them were born in Turkey, they have never seen a school. First, we conduct painting workshops for the younger children. Later, we give Turkish and mathematic lessons to children aged between seven and 12,” said Ali Güray Yalvaçlı, head of the Imece Initiative Foundation.
“To ensure continuity, we are always in contact with the families. For example, a family who is in Menderes this week can be located to the Torbalı district next week. Wherever the kids go, we go there,” he said.