We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the support you have given in our programs targeted for the refugee children living in Turkey. We are hoping that you were able to read the program closing summary for the past 3 years in delivering 8 different projects for the refugee children and their Moms to enhance their social and educational opportunities.
Together we invested about $150,000 for their future, brought happiness along with our local partners; educators, volunteers in the field enabling them the resources and tools to enhance their support.
Please continue to watch our other philantrophic programs, and read our impact stories in our "Building Bridges" web-site.
We are also grateful for the GlobalGiving platform who bridged us, and more importantly helped us deliver this impact globally.
Bridge to Turkiye Fund
Greetings to Our GlobalGiving Friends,
It has been 3 years since our organization with the strong support from you has risen to provide support for Syrian Refugee Children living in Turkey. It is emotional indeed to go back to the beginnings and look at all the projects, see the face of children, a bit of happiness we were able to bring to faces, support the local heros on the ground in simple but meaningful ways that made a difference in their lives. We have been fortunate enough to make a difference in their lives, and we are grateful for this. Each of you didn't sit on the sidelines, chipped in via your donations in various programs we developed over the course of the 3 years and supported our efforts...
It was December 2015, we gifted 1,000 schoolbags with education supply kits to children, working with 2 local partners, community centers serving refugee children in Istanbul.
We delivered 1,500 Arabic and 1500 Turkish story books to 30 Syrian schools operating in Istanbul in January 2016.
We sponsored 100 Children for 6 months for Education and Social Enrichment Classes in 2 community centers run by a local partner.
We invested in Syrian Women & Mothers, enabled a knitting job in a workshop which supported 50 mothers and inturn provided the means and financial support for 25 children for education.
In summer 2016, we sponsored a mini play and games camp for 600 children in Izmir via one of our International partners, they traveled as a team, and spent 2-3 weeks with children in their own communities.
Throughout 2016 and 2017, we provided literacy and social integration classes to Syrian Mothers - music & art lessons to their children.
In 2017 our major investment was to support Imece Village which was built as a self sustaining village by heroic people for refugee families, bought 2 containers that were used as a home for many, and used as a classroom.
In 2018, we sponsored a major pre-school education kit production, distribution and delivery for all the centers, NGO's and community centers we worked with in previous years.
In the last 3 years, we provided our project updates and stories for each of our programs mentioned above to show your impact and brought back the happiness and appreciatation from the refugee communities we served. With these programs worth about $150,000 we reached over 10,000 Syrian Refugee Children, and their mothers. We supported educators, their coaches, and all the relentless volunteers from 10 field organizations who touched their lives on a daily basis.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for staying with us, supporting our projects. We are a grassroots organization, our circle leaders and volunteers are our biggest assets and enablers for driving impact. We would like to acknowledge the work and personal efforts of Pinar Karaca Mandic (Minneapolis), Tugba Arslan Ozturk (Seattle), Aylin Celtik (Indiana) in delivering this impact on behalf of BTF and all of our supporters.
And lastly we would like to thank GlobalGiving Platform who united us in this mission and provided the voice of Syrian Refugee Children to reach beyond their borders to the World.
Bridge to Turkiye Fund
Syrian children have lost loved ones, suffered injuries, and witnessed violence and brutality. They are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused or exploited. 3,5 million refugees have been fleeing across the border into Turkey since 2011. In desperation, hundreds of thousands of refugees have attempted the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Greece. We all remember the children affected by the Syrian conflict and with your support we continue to work with our local NGO partners to offer programs and make a positive impact in their lives.
In this report, we will share our new partnership with the Team International Assistance for Integration (TIAFI). A volunteer-run organization lead by Anne O'Rorke who dedicated her time and energy in uplifting refugee communities with relentless efforts since the first days she witnessed the tragedy in Turkey. We got to know about Anne's efforts last year through working with other NGO's, and finally developed our philanthropic bridge with her in April 2018. TIAFI built a new community center based in a vacant facility located in an economically deprived neighborhood in 2017. The center hosts and serves a diverse population of both Syrian and Turkish people in Izmir, Turkey. Their primary goal is to empower vulnerable refugee women and their families in a safe, inclusive and supportive community center. TIAFI offers a range of support for the local refugee community including skill development, language lessons, legal support, healthcare-mobility support for the disabled children and offers a community kitchen.With the support of their dedicated volunteers, they provide nutritious lunches to vulnerable Turkish and Syrian people living in that local community. TIAFI team prepares more than 80 meals for the visitors each day. TIAFI also offers workshops where skills are taught such as sewing, jewelry making and leather crafting to improve Syrian women's prospects to enter the labor market in Turkey. They provide language lessons for kids and adults which is critical for social integration. TIAFI offers place where women who work or attend our programs can leave their children. The primary aim of the facility is to help the children acquire basic social and interpersonal skills, prepare them transition to formal education and schools and assist them with emotional development. Syrian volunteers living in the community works alongside with Turkish volunteers and psychologists to provide these services.
Very recently this past month in June, we provided 150 preschool education kits called “Getting Ready for School” along with our 4Kids kindergarten book set with 80 story books in Turkish for their use in their educational programs throughout the summer and after in their center. Lack of educational resources is one of the biggest challenges for the local and volunteer-run NGO's offering transitional education and we helped TIAFI fill this resources gap with our education kits and story books. In our previous reports in the series, we shared with you the content of these educational sets, and the learning objectives they enable with teachers. We hope you would see from the shared pictures in this report that the books were very well received and we were able to put a big smile in children's faces. The teachers reported that education kits and story books made the children so happy and they were proud owners. The children started to work on the activity books and crafts right away in the center. The teachers noted the fact that the education kits helped the children in learning basic skills & concepts and improved their Turkish vocabulary. The teachers were able to keep the children motivated and keep them focused on learning during the circle times and in other educational activities.
We would like to take this opportunity one more time to thank all of donors who have supported us in the past and continue to deliver impact for refugees in our 3'rd year. We are grateful for the Global Giving platform as a key partner in helping us bridge with a global audience to share their voice and their needs.
Thank you !
Bridge to Turkiye Fund
Most of what we will talk about today is the result of a few great souled people coming together, relentlessly working to save refugees, providing life support, and other humanitarian services, searching and finding local & international support over the course multiple years in Turkey. It would be just an injustice just to give an update about what we have done, and not to share the magnitude of the Imece’s support for the refugee population since 2015. Imece has been on multiple fronts; giving life-support, providing food & supplies, hygiene products, and offering educational activities for the refugee children in multiple tent camps they serve and their families who made it to Turkey though multiple ways and ended up in Izmir trying to build a new life.
Last August in 2017, we released a dedicated blog post about Imece & Hadra—an 11 yr old refugee girl to share one of the education projects we partnered with them. At the end of that blog we gave heads-up that they were getting ready for a master project to impact the refugees in a meaningful way. That project is building a land & village for the refugee community, a self sustaining life where moms are at work produce or create goods while children socialize, learn language & different skills to integrate into a new society. Earlier in the same year, through the support of our donors, we have provided $10,000 in financial aid to help them purchase 3 container houses for the planned village. As the refugee families don’t have a roof to stay or have weather resilient places to get classes or education, these containers do come very handy. We are pleased to know that these containers are put into good use, integrated to the village life and helping and enabling Imece to accomplish many of the objectives they laid out for the community . Imece team has spent the last 6 months completing the infrastructure and technical details and permits to go live, they converted these containers into livable places, buying furniture and the essentials to host families, or use as a classroom, and made them fully functional.
If you haven’t yet, please be sure to check out the village video . A picture/video is worth a thousand words and it shows you how the self-sustaining village idea is put int action. Here are some more specifics from the village and the use of containers:
1- They hosted 2 families of which 1 still resides in the village and uses one of the containers, a family of a single mom and her 3 children. Imece’s focus is to have the children attain a good level of Turkish so that they can be integrated to the primary elementary education system afterwards. Last semester they provided the same education, and language and rehabilitation services to 24 kids of which all have been integrated to the mainstream education & schools.Kids playing on sand on the ground in Imece Village
2- They hosted another family in one of the containers on a temporary basis, and the family has been transitioned swiftly to Sanliurfa city where the children receive more comprehensive rehabilitation services.
3- They recently organized a workshop (April 9–24) where they provided grooming services, learned soap making as means of learning “how to fish”. Imece sells these soaps and similar hand-made goods in local markets and in festivals to raise additional funds for supporting the needs of the refugees or the village.
The Imece village includes many amenities such as a farm land where they raise crops, a kitchen producing meals—3 times a week for 40 people, a tent that offers various hand made goods workshops for the moms, an area to grow chickens and lambs, an olive tree field, laundry, toilet and bathrooms, and the 3 containers to use for accommodation for needed families and to serve as a classroom for children, and a patio for gathering a large group for various discussions and conversations. A self-sustaining village at its best to serve the refugees.
Refugee Moms in soap making workshop in Imece Village
We are delighted to see this progress in Imece Village, it was a dream come true by Imece founders for the benefit of refugee families & children to build a better life. We are excited that they have accomplished this master plan and we have been able to help them in a meaningful way with our containers. If you happen to visit the area, be sure to check it out, and you will see firsthand the happiness and hope of the villagers. The children are happy, playing on the grounds, learning, doing educational activities, and growing. As we wrap up our post, we would like to thank again many of our supporters who contributed to our Syrian refugee children education programs with over $150,000 investment in the last 3 years. We hope this writing is a good one where you feel your impact and you continue to support us and many of our relentlessly working partners in the field…
Bridge to Turkiye Fund
Bridge to Turkiye Fund (BTF) is one of the few US based non-profit global organizations providing funds for the education of refugee children who have fled from Syria’s civil war. In 2017, BTF invested about $35,000 for the production and distribution of a preschool education kit called “Getting Ready for School”. The original kit was developed in Turkish by Assoc Prof. Dr. Selcuk Sirin from New York University and BTF translated the kit into Arabic specifically targeting the refugee children educational programs. Since its launch in mid 2017, BTF collaborated with 4 different NGOs serving refugee families and children to distribute these kits and make an impact for their gap years in education.
In this edition, we will share our partnership for the program with YUVA association. We developed our philantrophic bridge with YUVA in the first year of our Syrian Refugee Children program in 2015. That year, we supported/provided 100 youth refugee children in their community centers for 6 months in vocational training & Turkish language education.
Briefly, Yuva is a non-governmental organization which is based in Istanbul and operates community centers providing services for both Syrian Refugees and Turkish people. YUVA has two main programs, Earth Citizenship Program and Syrian Refugees Program. The main objective of Syrian Refugees Support Program conducted since April 2013 is to empower Syrian community and the local people through non-formal adult education. They developed and implemented a psycho-social support program especially for Syrians’ emotional and cognitive well-being, to improve and strengthen their professional skills through vocational training and income generating activities. By including 2 ethnic populations, Turkish and Syrian people and participants in their programs, they increase the dialogue, empathy and solidarity between Syrian refugees and the local people.
YUVA has Community Centers where they provide community protection and social services such as case management, social counseling, legal aid, and language courses; computer training; skills development courses; vocational training. BTF provided 1000 education kits for them to use in their Nizip (400 kits), Kirikhan (300 kits), Konya (100) and Umraniye (200 kits) Community Centers. We received a lot of great feedback for our kits from Tolga Gulec, Manager of Communication, Ebru Acikgoz, Coordinator of Educational Programs and Teachers. We are happy to report the following feedback with our supporters.
We know one of the biggest challenges for an NGO in operating in this capacity is the lack of educational resources and tools to use in their activities. Teachers reported that the BTF’s education kit helped the children in learning the key concepts easily and helped themselves as teachers to keep & increase their focus & engagement in learning.
As we entered into 2018, our support for Syrian Refugee Children continues. In the following updates, we will provide news on new partnerships and/or share ongoing projects with the existing partners from the field. With your support and care for refugee children, we have been able to sustain our support despite the decline of international humanitarian aid and interest. We want to thank YOU again for your kind support, and would like to acknowledge the power of GlobalGiving platform in enabling us to meet and our individual connection to serve them.
Hope you all have a great start of the year, and the new year brings new hopes, happiness and peace for the region and all the children in the world.
Bridge to Turkiye Fund!
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