Today we would like to share with you the experience of one our participants, Irina Bormotova, who took part in the 2Become1 Project.

2Become1 is a KA204 Erasmus+ Project. The aim of the project is to collect good practices from partners from different EU countries, especially those at the forefront in this humanitarian crisis: Italy, Turkey as countries of first arrival and UK and Austria as countries that most of the refugees see as final destinations. The objectives are to share best practices between organisations in Europe dealing refugees/migrants within hosting communities; to learn different methods of teaching to migrant groups, acquire new ICT skills to use during the classes of migrants; to prevent conflicts, xenophobia, radicalisation and marginalization’s and provide them training key intercultural learning and inclusion of refugees.

Thank you very much Irina for sharing your experience with us!

In October 2019 I had the opportunity to go to Turkey as part of the 2Become 1 training funded by Erasmus+ and facilitated by Kairos Europe ltd.

We were travelling to Turkey to join participants and partners from Austria (Institute of Interdisciplinary Education), Italy (Itaka Training), Turkey (Hatay Project) and Gebze Public Education Centre. We were was given a fantastic opportunity by Kairos Europe to learn about the migration process in Turkey.

We had a very busy timetable from day one, when we learn about the immigration system in Turkey, particularly in regard to Syrian refugees.

Our training was based at the Gebze Public Education Centre. During the four days of the training we learned a lot about integrational programmes for asylums seekers and support available for migrants.
The project partners presented to us their programmes funded by Erasmus + and municipal funding such as Cash4Work and the Hatay Project.

The Gebze Public Education Centre has been operating in Gebze for 42 years.

The centre runs accredited courses for adults,(including migrants) such as: arts and crafts, cooking, sewing, first aid, food hygiene, health & safety, welding, hairdressing and wedding candy making, accounting, literacy, sport, Turkish language (all levels) and ICT.

Distant learning is also available for locals and migrants. The Centre provides textbooks and other materials for all programmes.

In addition to such a long list of vocational courses and Turkish language classes, the centre runs Arabic classes for Syrians with low literacy.

The centre has referrals from the department of education and local agencies, however, most of the referrals come from word of mouth. We participated in one of the workshops available for refugees and everyone created a beautiful handmade bracelet. We also attended language classes and workshops where Syrian refugees were producing great handmade items bed linen with embroidery, traditional clothes, jewellery, toys and bags.

I tried to decorate a plate with some Islamic decorative elements under supervision of one of the teachers. I also was modelling for hairdressing class for migrants and I loved my hair afterwards!

We also had a unique chance to see Ataturk Primary school in Gebze and to learn how well Syrian children fit into educational system in Turkey. The classes were equipped with interactive white boards and  all children are provided with textbooks funded by the Hatay project.

It was very interesting to meet students from Syria, women in particular, who were telling us their own stories about migration. To my surprise, lots of Syrian women were speaking fluent Turkish, but despite that fact, they were still unemployed. In my view, most Syrian women I spoke to were settling very well and none of them wanted to return to Syria in the future.
We had very emotional moments with Syrian participants and those sessions were very interactive and enjoyable.

With Syrian ladies
Meeting with refugees from Syria.

On another day we visited the Turkish Red Crescent, the biggest humanitarian organisation in Turkey. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian and development network, with millions of volunteers in 190 member National Societies.

We were impressed by how well organised and well equipped this society is. The Red Crescent Society building is a purpose build and has new furniture, equipment and resources. All workers were very welcoming and most of them spoke good English. We listened to some interesting presentations about the structure of the Red Crescent Society in Turkey and the important work they do with migrants.

On our last training day in Gebze we visited Town hall and Mayor of Gebze. I asked the Mayor questions about Syrians’ employment, particularly in regard to recruitment of professional engineers. The Mayor told us about his work with refugees and the support available for them in Gebze.

Meeting with Mayor of Gebze.

Gebze is a large industrial town and refugees were given employment opportunities in manufacturing, construction (welding) and chemical industries.

I was pleasantly surprised that there are no homeless people in town despite a very large number of migrants! Once registered in Gebze, Syrian refugees have access to social housing, healthcare and education. They also receive a discount cards for their basic shopping needs. On the same day we had a meeting with the Head of National Education Directorate Kasaeli Gebze. We discussed migrants’ educational issues, including access to Higher Education and challenges they experience in these matters; they experience problems similar to the UK regarding the recognition of migrants’ qualifications and work experience from abroad.

As religion is a very important part of Turkish life and culture we had to visit Turkish mosque. Mosques play a huge role in migrants’ integration as this is something that unites most Syrian refugees and locals. Mosques provide emotional, cultural and physical support for many refugees in Turkey. There is food available for those in need and access to information, advice and guidance organised by local volunteers.

We also had a very exciting one day trip to Istanbul. We started from the Hippodrome, the biggest ancient hippodrome known, learned about marble based Egyptian Obelisk of Teodoros, one of the oldest in the world and few other obelisks nearby. The Blue Mosque looks beautiful even while under construction. The colour of tiles is in harmony with the blue sky and marble columns.

We also visited Hagia Sofia, one of the oldest places of worship and we were very impressed by the size and architecture of this ancient building. It was originally built in 360 AD and for more than a thousand years was a Christian church. Today, Hagia Sofia is a museum. From the inside and the outside, it looks like a mosque and it’s difficult to imagine the cathedral structure within this building.

Hagia Sofia

The 2Become1 programme improves an awareness of migration issues and knowledge on effective skill-based training for refugees in Turkey. Various tools were used to develop our understanding of integrational mechanisms, policies and procedures for dealing with migrants, especially with Syrian refugees. This training equipped me as a practitioner working with refugees with necessary knowledge and skills on migration issues globally and in Turkey. It also inspired me to continue my professional development and taught  me how to become more compassionate, tolerant , diverse, and better human being.

Thank you, Kairos, for such great opportunity provided to me and to other participants! I shall pass my knowledge and experience I gained during this training to my team in London

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Kairos Europe, its partners or their employees.

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