Our center provides a happy, child-friendly space to children under six. Five days a week, between 20 to 25 children attend various activities in this space. Children participate in art, craft, singing, dancing, story-telling and other activities designed to enhance their language skills and social behaviors. The children also get ample opportunity to play in a safe environment. This space is also provides support to the women taking part in our livelihood skills program.
We provide hot and fresh breakfast and lunch to the children and adults attending our programs. Milk, fruits, a freshly prepared lunch and snacks are all provided at our premises to the attendees and anyone who is hungry.
Conversation clubs for adults are led by a native Turkish speaker, who facilitates Turkish conversation and key language points needed for daily interactions. These clubs are a safe space for the women of the community to come together and get support as they learn to speak a new language. The sessions are designed around specific social settings that the women need to negotiate in daily life, like hospital visits, school visits, shopping for groceries etc. Our facilitator for this is Banu Hasman Yuce. We also have Arabic language sessions for the children, led by women from the community.
We offer after school homework help for school-going children who might not receive the assistance they need at home. Native Turkish speakers help children with course material.
Children in our school-ready program participate in art therapy activities two or three times a week. These art therapy activities are led by trained art therapists, Asli Arslanbek, Cathie Barbaroux and others. These art therapy sessions allow the children a non-threatening way to express their difficult and overwhelming feelings. Through their drawings, the children find a non-verbal way to work through their traumas.
Women’s art therapy
We also offer art therapy for the adult women of the community. Currently, we are working with Fulya Pinar and her Beyond Museum/Muze Otesi project. Sessions are provided on painting, collage making and photography. The artworks are discussed after every session and edited collaboratively.
Yoga for health
Yoga is provided for both adult women and children by trained yoga professionals. Yoga is an effective tool for self-care, both for women and children. The yoga sessions combine yoga, mindfulness practices and breathing exercises. This program is supported by teachers from the Istanbul Accueil Association.
Apart from the programs at the center, the children also get an opportunity to spend time outside exploring their environments. Through the past years, the children at the center have been taken on excursions to amusement parks, museums, and the Belgrad forest and on boat trips to the islands. Partnerships with other educational organizations like the Robert College and Sabanci University have given us the opportunity to explore these higher education centers and attend children’s festivals and programs on their campuses. The children also take part in the annual Children’s festival in Balat and Fener. We also arrange family outings that give families a chance to spend a day together with other families and volunteers in a safe space. The children from the center also take part in the annual World Clean up day program in our neighborhood. Currently, the children are taken to the Koc museum every month for workshops. This project is facilitated by support from Istanbul Acceuil.
We arrange several recreational programs over the year for the children. From music concerts to magic shows, we have hosted visiting entertainment professionals from across the world.
We offer psycho-social support programs to our community through partnerships with specialist organizations. We currently run a family intervention program for our families, focusing on stress management, with trained facilitators from the community. Over the years, we have also had trained child therapists assisting us with our programs.
Yusra Handmade project
The Yusra Handmade project creatively addresses the important issue of the need for displaced women to find paid, women-centered, ethical and dignified work, while tackling issues of childcare, social and cultural norms and domestic violence. The project aims to provide skilled refugee women training and work in sewing and producing handmade products. At the same time, this project focuses on environmental protection as we only make eco-friendly products using recycled and scrap fabric. This project is currently run by Delphine Lambert, with training provided by Alice Corrigan. It is supported by the Istanbul Acceuil Association.