by Goncagul Ay, Program Associate.
“I made this painting so when I grow up I can remember my family.” This is a quote by an eleven-year-old Mustafa, who lives in the Bolluca Children’s Village. This village is the first place he calls “home”. All the stories start with an opening line of “once upon a time.” As such, the story of Koruncuk goes back 20 years. It’s a story that provides a family and a home to many children who need a safe haven. Today, the village consist of 10-12 family houses, 1 girls’ and 1 boys’ youth houses as well as a Cultural Center, Kindergarten, Library, Playground and Sports Halls.
Koruncuk Vakfi (aka Turkish Foundation for Children in Need of Protection) shelters children who are abandoned, abused or neglected. These children grow up and get education in a healthy family. The goal is to develop these children’s personal skills and prepare them for future so they can contribute to the society at large.
Children are accepted into the village between the ages of 0-6 years old. Since their inception, Koruncuk Vakfi provided housing to more than 200 children. They are supported from kindergarten until they are independent depending on the dreams of the child whether it is to go to university or get married. Every child is given an opportunity to choose a field they are interested in and supported in developing skills such as artistic, cultural and physical education. They also participate in activities and celebrations and take field trips to expand their horizons.
During my visit to Koruncuk Foundation’s office in Mecidiyekoy, Istanbul, their mission and work echoed in my ears throughout our conversation with the staff. I could sense what they gave to these children was more than just a roof over their head but it was a one big family. I knew then that for Koruncuk Foundation, this was more than helping a child, it was providing them with every possible opportunity they can get every step of the way to make sure they reach their potential. When I entered Koruncuk’s office, I overheard a conversation between staff members, “we should encourage her to continue studying and graduate. She has one semester left. I will speak to her and make sure she graduates so she can have a better life. She can get married after she graduates.” This was the type of care, patience and love they put into their work. I later learned that if any of the children move out of the village, Koruncuk does regular follow-ups with each child to make sure they reach their fullest potential and all of their needs are met.
The staff members are called “mothers” and “fathers”. They are the ones that make sure these children receive the best experience possible. Koruncuk Foundation works with experienced staff, social services experts and pedagogies to provide support to children personally, academically and emotionally.
For future, the Foundation’s goal is to implement 5 more children’s villages in provinces where they are mostly needed in Turkey and to help as many children as possible who need protection. After Bolluca Children’s Village’s success rate, they are convinced that setting up villages where they are needed will help more children. Bolluca Children’s Village is an exemplary facility. Next is Urla. To support their efforts, take a look at their project.