Rising for Syrian Refugee Children

This article was originally published by Pınar Karaca-Mandic, BTF’s Syrian Refugee Children project leader in Minnesota…

More than 400,000 school aged Syrian refugee children are missing education in Turkey.

Before the crisis in Syria, nearly every child was enrolled in primary school, but as the conflict escalated, over a million refugee kids have been displaced in neighboring Turkey. To them and to their families education has become a luxury. Many children, who ordinarily should have been in third or fourth grade by now, have had little or no schooling over the last 4 years.

According to the UNHCR, there are a total of 4.2 million Syrian refugees, including almost two million children. Turkey is now the largest refugee-hosting country in the world hosting 2.5 million refugees, half of this population is children. It has built a network of camps to house more than a quarter of million refugees and has spent $8 billion but most of the refugees are living outside the government built refugee camps.

According to Human Rights Watch Group report (November 8, 2015), “In Turkey’s 25 government-run refugee camps, approximately 90 percent of school-aged Syrian children regularly attend school. However, these children represent just 13 percent of the Syrian refugee school-aged population in Turkey. The vast majority of Syrian children in Turkey live outside refugee camps in towns and cities, where their school enrollment rate is much lower — in 2014- 2015, only 25 percent of them attended school.”

Civil societies and Syrian NGOs in Turkey play a vital role in providing formal and informal education to Syrian refugees. Several NGOs were established after the Syrian war began in 2011, many of which work and function in host countries such as Turkey.

A U.S. based, grassroots charitable non-profit, Bridge to Türkiye Fund (BTF), which provides support for socially and economically deprived children in Turkey, is one of them. BTF has recently sent funds to provide 1,000 School Bags, filled with educational supplies and 3,000 children’s books to Syrian children at Amasya, Isparta, Istanbul, Kayseri and Nevsehir, in Turkey. The volunteer-run non-profit also has recently kicked off a giving campaign to provide support and show solidarity for the Syrian refugee children living in Turkey. The primary focus of the support is working towards eliminating the education gaps of the children who have had little or no schooling over the last 4 years.

The team of volunteers at BTF has completed a detailed needs assessment in corporation with local NGO partners in Turkey and is targeting to raise $50,000

in U.S. through charitable giving. With Giving Tuesday approaching on Tuesday December 1,2015, the non-profit called for Turkish Americans, charities, families around the world to come together for common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give to stop Syrian Children from becoming the lost generation and called for action through the campaign to “Rise For The Education Of Syrian Refugee Children In Turkey!” and stated that “Failing to provide Syrian refugee children with education puts an entire generation at risk”.

Through the non-profit’s campaign, the support will deliver many of these educational and social gaps of the refugees, create a sense of community, sense of belonging for refugee children and their families, and create a strong routine they lack and provide an environment of predictability. 100% of the funds will be used to provide life-building tools living in exile while maintaining their cultural heritage. There are 4 distinct programs with specific targets to achieve in the first phase of the giving campaign and more information about these projects and how to join the community can be reached at bridgetoturkey.org.

The Turkish government adopted a policy in September 2014, that formally granted Syrian children access to public schools, but key obstacles — including language barriers, social integration, economic hardship, and a lack of information about the policy and the indirect barrier of pressure to work to support their families — persist one year later. There is a huge demand for language skills (vocational courses) for children, youth and adults both in Turkish and English, psychological counseling, cultural and social enrichment programs. Local NGO’s play a vital role in serving to this 80% of refugee population distributed in the border towns and cities in Turkey. Towns have community centers and provide social support services, such as helping refugees find healthcare, legal guidance, and helping refugees find schooling and education opportunities for their children.

The refugees continue to struggle every day to achieve a bare-minimum life in Turkey or take the risk to reach Europe in the hopes of seeking asylum via dangerous paths, costing 3000 lives while trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2015. Families lack financial resources and even worse they lack public empathy, social, and cultural integration tools to reestablish their lives.

Campaign Video:

Campaign Scope: https://www.bridgetoturkiye.org/rise-for-syrian-children/

To donate, visit us on Global Giving.

Originally published at medium.com on November 29, 2015.

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