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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.