TPF Grantee Dr. Zeynep Simsek’s project “Seasonal Migrant Workers Youth Program” supported through the Sabanci Foundation Grant Program of the UN Joint Program to Promote and Protect Human Rights of Women and Girls has recently been completed. The purpose of the project was to reduce social exclusion of seasonal migrant workers from the rest of society through the training of 25 peer leaders in a five-day workshop. The participants in the training were then asked to relay the information they have learned to at least 25 other peers in their communities so as to create a multiplier effect.
The project was successfully completed and here are some remarks the participants had to say about the program and how it impacted their lives:
“In the morning when I saw the bus that would take us to the training my excitement doubled. I had never entered into a university before. The trainers met us, some of the students were looking around in awe. I asked myself, “What am I doing here?” When I met the trainers, my shyness and anxiety went away with their attention and interaction with us. They gave us so much value that I was beginning to see myself valued as well. Until now I had been a shy person. After this training I have become more sociable. Today is the last day, everything will be different from now on.”
“This training has increased my self-confidence. We learned side by side the things men and women need to know. The boys and girls, we got along so well. We spoke about the things we couldn’t even tell our doctors. We learned.“
“If I had known studying would be this beneficial for me, I would have never dropped out of school. It is never too late to turn back.“
“I didn’t know half the things we learned in this training, now I know. 25 people means 25 generations.“
“When we first came on the first day all the boys and girls sat apart from each other like we were enemies. How could I have known that mixing up with them would have been a good feeling. Living together like brother and sister is a great thing.“
“We didn’t get training in this program, we became a family and learned about respect, love and brotherhood. How did all of this happen in five days? On the first day I didn’t know anything and I was afraid to speak or hear but now I am telling others. My friends started telling me “Songul, where did you learn all these things! Oh my god!” and I replied “I learned and taught you, now you tell others: for you to be healthy, your environment must be healthy”. These days were my best days ever.”
“The biggest problem of Sanliurfa is family planning. No one knows about it. My sister has 5 children, all girls. She gets pregnant before she stops breast feeding the newborn so that she can have a boy. It’s all ignorance. I wish everyone could go through this kind of training. I understand girls better now.”
“We asked my father, why did you have so many children. He said from ignorance, we didn’t know what to do and we were embarrassed to ask or talk about it.”
“This empty sheet is filled with thousands of girls’ cries for help. When you gave it to me it was clean, and I was sick of everything in life, including myself. When I was little, I wanted to become a teacher but because I was a girl, they allowed only my brother to go to school but he dropped out. I don’t want my life to be like my mother’s. I expressed my cries for help here, until this day I never told anyone these things before.”
“Now I say no to male-female inequality. Man and woman are both humans.“
“We learned about our rights in this training. We learned what a man is, what a woman is.We learned enough information to last us a lifetime. I wish the program was not just 5 days but 1 month.”
“She was one of the unfortunate women of Southeastern Turkey. In that region, loving someone, running away from home and not listening to your family means death. The things that we live are all ignorance. But we will overcome this ignorance with the help of people like you. The solution is for the tribal system to be gotten rid of. Its not too late for anything.“
Read more about the project here.