Turkiye_A group of children holding thumbs up and peace signs
Photo: Tarek Satea/CARE

Türkiye: “I would have loved this as a child myself”

In a project in Türkiye, funded by the European Union, CARE trains community activators and community coaches who use their skills in sports sessions, women’s clubs, and training sessions to spread awareness about topics such as early marriages, women empowerment, refugee rights but also to teach children important life skills.  

One part of the project uses sports games to teach ten to fifteen children between the ages of 8 and 14 important life skills. The games focus on teamwork, taking responsibility, communicating well together, and self-confidence. The teamwork session uses a mix of football and playing catch as fun teaching strategies. The children pass the ball to each other and try to score a goal, or they try not to get caught gathering the other team’s treasure.

After each game, the participants sit together with the CARE community coach and discuss what they have learned. “We need to know who is good at catching, then he has to stand in the middle,” Huzyfa, 10, says in the discussion. “We need to help each other, otherwise we won’t win,” says Lubana, 9. Hassan, 8, adds, “Yes, I will help my teammates that are not so good at catching, by throwing the ball to him more often, so he can practice.” 

Turkiye_CARE coach in black jacket standing in front of CARE and EU banners

24-year-old community coach, Ahmet, in Nizip, Gaziantep District, Türkiye. Photo: Tarek Satea/CARE

Arwa, 27, and Ahmet, 24, are both community coaches, trained by CARE. “I love sports, I studied it at university, and I want the children in my community to play but also develop their abilities. This will stay with them their whole lives,” says Ahmet. He is a refugee from Syria. When he was twelve years old, he fled to Türkiye because his home was bombed heavily. His family lived in a refugee camp for six years.

“I would have loved to have this kind of support CARE gives these children as a child myself, but I had no one. That is why I want to help children to take good decisions in life and be more self-reliant,” says Ahmet. Arwa’s house in Syria was bombed which is why she and her family fled in 2015. She studied as a nurse and focuses on the well-being of children. “Sports are not just physical, but a means to children and let them grow,” says Arwa. 

Turkiye_Woman in light pink hijab sitting between a young girl and boy

Arwa, a community coach, with Huzyfa and his cousin who participate in the project activities. Photo: Tarek Satea/CARE

Both coaches are very active in their community and encourage their neighbors to bring their children to the CARE sessions. Arwa told the mother of Huzyfa, 10 (left picture, on the right), about the session and he brought his cousin Lubana with him. The family left Syria when Huzyfa was four years old. “I like to play as one team,” says Huzyfa. “It’s our first experience with a CARE session, but my son likes it a lot. It is important for the children to change their routine and to learn about collaboration,” says his mother. Ahmet also brought his younger sister and some neighborhood children to the training session. 

Aya, 26, is part of a CARE women’s club and has been trained by CARE as a community activator. She learnt about the health aspects of early marriage and actively prevents cases in her community. “I had two cases of child marriage in my neighborhood, and I am very proud of having stopped them. One of the 16-year-old girls hugged me afterwards as a thank you,” says Aya. She herself fled Syria after her brother was severely injured in an airstrike. “I feel like that being a CARE community activator, I can be something in the society. I want to change something to be better. When I am raising the awareness of a mother or anyone else, this will raise the awareness of their children”, Aya concludes.  

Turkiye_Hijabi in pink black and white sweater smiling in the middle of the street

Community activator, Aya, is helping to prevent child marriage through educating children in her community. Photo: Tarek Satea/CARE

“CARE gave me the opportunity to raise my own awareness about women’s empowerment and rights, but also about harassment. Now I raise the awareness of my community,” says Aisha, 38. She also learnt how to report a case of harassment and how to stand up for herself. “I learnt a lot from CARE. I knew a few cases of exploitation but never knew what to do against it. A lot of women don’t know how to react, so I am very glad that I now can give out the information to women so they can protect themselves,” concludes Aisha.  

Turkiye_Lady in pink hijab smiling next to EU and CARE banners

Aisha attends a session on women's rights and empowerment. Photo: Tarek Satea/CARE