Volunteer for refugees (Istanbul)
As you know refugee crisis is getting bigger everyday and we are daily shaken by photos of ruined cities and children from Syria, which unfortunately has become a ordinary piece of news.
But we can help.
I got involved with volunteering for refugees last year when I got to know Qnushyo. At Qnushyo refugees living in Yedikule neighborhood come together, they are mostly Syrians, but there are Afghans, Pakistanis as well. As you can imagine people come and go, so I cannot give you an exact number.
Qnushyo functions as a school for both children and adults. There are roughly 20 children under the age of 15. They all speak Arabic and most speak Turkish and English. From September to June children (in the morning) and adults (usually in the evening) receive classes like Turkish, English, Maths etc. Of course the classes are not as strict as mainstream schools and those who give the classes are not necessarily teachers. So if you are engineer and you want to teach Maths, you are good to go!
There are many ways to help, let me list them down one by one so that you can have a clear idea how you can contribute.
1) Weekly contribution
a) You can be a teacher at the center! You can teach any subject area you want as long as it will be at the students’ level. Right now we have a schedule for classes, so if you opt for teaching, just let me know your availability and we will arrange the timing.
b) If you want to contribute weekly but don’t see yourself as a teacher, you can plan other things that are engaging and fun. For example, I do activity hour with the children on Saturdays, and we have just started to make small DIY projects inspired by Pinterest. Last year, two volunteers held sports hour every weekend. We have a volunteer who introduces cooking to the children. There is a group of volunteers who planning to form a drama club. What are you interested in?
QUESTION: Some weeks will be very hard for me to make it because of travels and other commitments, I cannot guarantee every week, so should I still volunteer?
ANSWER: A big YES! This is why we want to reach out to more volunteers, we can help and substitute one another when one of is away. But please bear in mind volunteering is best appreciated if it is regular, meaning if you tell the children you’ll be there next week, please try to make it or they will wait for you and get disappointed if you don't show up.
2) Monthly contribution: If your schedule is too tight to accommodate going to the center every week, you can still organize something once month. It can be a special, easy and cost-efficient workshop for adults and/or children, it can a trip to a museum, a dance-session or anything that comes to your mind. Only tell us what you are planning, and we can work on it together.
3) Financial contribution: If you really have no time but still want to help, you can still do so. The center mostly accepts non-monetary donations such as toys for the children, board markers and pens. But I have recently found out a way to contribute financially without giving cash-money: a BIMcard. There is a BİM supermarket closeby, and almost everything (from toilet paper to tea) is bought there. They sell gift cards worthy of 25 TL. You can buy as many as you want and take them to Qnushyo directly or give them to me at a meeting and I'll take them for you. Qnushyo will use the cards to provide the center with necessary things.
It has been a rather long message, but I want to give you just the right amount of details, many enough to grasp the big picture and few enough to make you curious. Please let me if any of the options suits you and we can organize how to get started.