Since the beginning of the civil war in Syrian, majority of Syrian population has been forced to leave the country. This left millions of Syrians as refugees all over the world, including Turkey. They all need to deal with dire circumstances. Yet, the children, who are labeled as “the lost generation”, are the ones impact the most. They face many obstacles from language barrier and racial discrimination to financial hurdles as they try to adapt to a new way of life in Turkey. TPF’s newest partner, Small Projects Istanbul (SPI) works to impact the lives of these children.
Small Projects Istanbul came to life through volunteer efforts of an Australian expat, Karyn Thomas. Karyn, an early childhood education specialist moved to Syria to work with Iraqi refugees. During her time at Yarmouk Camp to provide relief to the refugees, she came to realize how much Syrian children are missing out on school due to war. Believing that education is the greatest tool for these children to create themselves a new life in the future, Karyn decided to take an action. She decided to take the responsibility of a 17 year-old Palestinian girl’s education expenses at the camp. As Karyn sponsored a girl’s education, she came to realize that individual contributions can make a big difference. So she spread the word through her family and friends and reached out to thousands all over the world. Forced to leave Syria because of the conflict in 2013, Karyn moved to Istanbul and Small Projects Istanbul came to life through countless individual contributions.
Based in Fatih, a neighborhood, which accommodates thousands of Syrian refuges, SPI established a community center- The Olive Tree Community Education Center. Since 2013, they are teaching Turkish to refugee children so that they can continue their education and feel at home in Turkey. They are also providing English, French and German lessons so that these children can move forward in their careers someday. In addition to language courses, refugee children participate in various artistic workshops such as music, dance, painting and theater. There are currently more than 200 kids benefiting from The Olive Tree Community Education Center’s daily classes and activities. The numbers are likely to grow since children who learn Turkish keep going to The Olive Tree, where they feel welcome, safe and at home.
SPI also runs a craft collective at The Olive Tree to empower Syrian refugee women. At The Olive Tree, participating women develop their hand crafting skills, create unique handmade objects and earn an income to support their families through the sales. To change the lives of refugee children and women, take a look at SPI’s projects. Your support will help refugee families to get back on their feet and create the new generation of leaders.