Turkey: WFP’s Kitchen of Hope brings diversity into the mix

Syrian refugees and Turkish nationals are skilling up in a flagship project to boost the resilience of vulnerable communities

Melissa Loukieh
Sep 22, 2020 · 3 min read
Project participants in Ankara are among 600 being trained across Turkey. Photo: WFP/Ozan Toptaş

The World Food Programme (WFP)’s Kitchen of Hope project in Turkey is helping both Turkish nationals and Syrian refugees gain news skills in order to earn a living — cooking skills, to be precise, which they perfect in placements with hotels, restaurants and cafes.

People across nine provinces are being offered vocational and on-the-job training. This year, Kitchen of Hope aims to train a minimum of 600 participants on the government-certified Chef Assistant curriculum, assisting them with on-the-job training. It allows trainees from a variety of backgrounds to mix, grill and bake together.

On-the-job training is a key attraction for participants such as Batoul in Istanbul. Photo: WFP/Bisher Addas

The project is bringing Özlem from Istanbul a step closer to her dream of running her own restaurant — delayed up until now because of the high cost of training as a chef and her commitments as a mother to two children.

“Kitchen of Hope is ideal for me,” she says. “Especially now that my children are grownups.”

Özlem in action during the Kitchen of Hope project’s culinary training. Photo: WFP/Suraj Sharma

Batoul is a 22-year-old woman from Damascus. Before the training, she was planning to open a restaurant as an outlet for her mother’s cooking skills. “The programme made me realize that my mum and I can work together,” she says. Batoul’s two brothers are factory-workers who support the family— this would allow her to contribute to their family income too, she says.

Kitchen of Hope is supported by the Turkish Government. Photo: WFP/Suraj Sharma

Özlem and Batoul completed their vocational training separately. Now they are doing on-the-job training at the same restaurant.

“We are sometimes overloaded with work and I am trying to get attuned to this place, but having someone I already know around is a plus for me,” says Özlem. “I am learning a lot of things, especially the tricks of preparing a good salad,” she adds.

Özlem is keen to start her own business. Photo: WFP/Bisher Addas

Batoul agrees that the first days on the job are busy and tiring. “I felt like a stranger at the beginning, but the more I go to the restaurant the better I feel as I am discovering things I’ve never seen before,” she says.

Batoul finds Özlem’s presence at the restaurant comforting. “I am glad that there’s someone I trust working with me. I can ask Özlem anything and this makes me feel good,” she says.

The Kitchen of Hope project enhances team spirit. Photo: WFP/Suraj Sharma

Funded by the Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of Norway, Kitchen of Hope is implemented by WFP in partnership with Turkish Ministry of National Education, ISKUR (the Turkish Employment agency), and, in the province of Mardin, the Sukraan Foundation.

The programme is being rolled out in the provinces of Adana, Ankara, Hatay, Istanbul, Izmir, Kilis, Mardin, Mersin and Sanliurfa.

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store