Colourful Hopes Association (Rengarenk Umutlar Derneği – RUMUD) is receiving grant support from our Donor-Advised Fund to organise psychosocial support workshops for children between the ages of 8-16 living in the Sur district of Diyarbakir.
Read below our interview:
Can you tell us about the plans and priorities of the Colourful Hopes Association for 2023?
As the Colourful Hopes Association (Rengarenk Umutlar Derneği – RUMUD), we had a very active year. In 2023, we will follow our strategic plan and realise our activities accordingly. We will increase the number of our workshops and our human resources capacity compared to previous years. We will continue our long-standing activities like providing psychosocial support and book, toy, and bicycle libraries.
To realise these activities, which are included in our strategic plan, our capacity-strengthening activities were supported with various grants. Through these grants, we will prioritise our projects on Culture of Peace with Children, Child Rights Academy 2, Creating a Child Rights Based Network for the Management of Crises, Creating an Early Childhood Education Programme, Trainings on Child Labour, and Strategic Litigation.
RUMUD recently celebrated its 5th anniversary. When you think about the time that has passed, can you tell us about your field of work and the changes that RUMUD has experienced in parallel?
In these five years, which were challenging yet beautiful, we have learnt and grown in every sense. We started out with psychosocial support activities aimed at reducing the negative effects of the armed conflicts in the Suriçi region on children. As our work progressed, we identified different areas of need for children.
We started out with psychosocial support activities aimed at reducing the negative effects of the armed conflicts in the Suriçi region on children.
First of all, we observed that there were no safe areas outside of school and home where children could play, that they had difficulty in doing their homework because of the physical conditions of their homes due to socio-economic problems, and that they could not find the opportunity to study due to lack of books and resources. Therefore, we quickly organised campaigns and established a book library where children could get books and study. Immediately after, we established a toy library where children could play with the toys and borrow them to take home. Later, we established a bicycle library with a similar library system.
As these activities continued, the need to produce a discourse on children’s rights stood before us as an inevitable necessity. Later, the need to strategically carry out active monitoring activities emerged. We prepared a strategic plan in line with the emerging needs of the field, and we designed a child rights academy to empower activists. We also planned a monitoring activity on children’s right to play. During this time, the pandemic started. At the beginning of the pandemic, since children experienced a lockdown resembling what they experienced during armed conflicts and their traumas were likely to be triggered, we continued our contact with children, albeit remotely, with the workshops we held with the teleconference method.
However, while the long duration of the pandemic reduced our activities, on the other hand, it allowed us to focus on our organisational capacity-building that we could not find time for before. To strengthen our capacity, we started to prepare all the policy and position papers we needed by working online. In addition, after publishing our Children’s Perception of Peace report, our work on peace has evolved into another dimension.
Due to the pandemic, we organised our child rights academy online. We had 12 sessions with 15 participants accompanied by facilitators. Participants who graduated as child rights experts continue to volunteer as trainers. While the effects of the pandemic were still ongoing, we carried out two critical monitoring studies. The first was the report on Monitoring Children’s Right to Play in Suriçi and the second was the Child Labour Monitoring studies. Both increased the contributions to the field of children’s rights and the association’s visibility.
However, child labour is growing day by day due to the lack of control mechanisms, deterring sanctions, and necessary measures.
In summary, never leaving the field and conducting needs analyses with our stakeholders transferred the activities to the target audience in the right way. So, we can say that growth has been realised in terms of the target audience and human and financial resources. The road is long, and we continue to walk this road every day with the excitement of the first day.
We know that the number of children in child labour has reached 2 million in Turkey. Is there a national strategy or policy to combat child labour? What needs to be done by which stakeholders for the implementation of such strategies and policies?
There is a National Programme on Combating Child Labour (2017-2023) established under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. According to this programme, the priority target groups are children working on the streets, children working in heavy and hazardous work in small and medium-sized enterprises, and children working in mobile and temporary agricultural work outside the family business. However, child labour is growing day by day due to the lack of control mechanisms, deterring sanctions, and necessary measures.
While combating child labour, not finding solutions to problems like poverty, injustice in income distribution, and unemployment leaves this struggle incomplete and insufficient. In this context:
- The Ministry of Industry and Technology and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security should take an active role in implementing active control mechanisms against employers and investors, which see children as cheap labour and see no harm in employing them in indecent work,
- Social support programmes should be developed to address income inequality, and anti-poverty and social development programmes should be implemented by the state or with state support,
- The Ministry of Family and Social Services, having the primary responsibility to ensure coordination between institutions for the protection of children, should plan and implement preventive policies in a way to include civil society organisations,
- Children who drop out of school due to child labour should be followed up and the obstacles in the way of education should be eliminated.
While combating child labour, not finding solutions to problems like poverty, injustice in income distribution, and unemployment leaves this struggle incomplete and insufficient.
The inadequacy of social state policies is one of the most important reasons for the deepening of child labour. The share of the private sector in the deepening of this problem is also undeniably crucial. Both the causes of the problem and the solutions and methods are clear. The actors that actively fight against child labour should be civil society organisations and initiatives working in the field of rights.
In this context, we held a 2-day workshop in Diyarbakır on 21-22 January 2023. Participants included the Diyarbakır Bar Association Child Rights Centre and children’s associations working in Diyarbakır. Discussions were held on the developmental, mental, and psychological effects of increasing poverty in Turkey and the parallel increase in child labour. Subsequently, the chain of responsibility in the problem of child labour was defined and methods of joint struggle were discussed. One of the significant outputs of the workshop was to conduct strategic litigation to make child labour visible in the short term. In doing so, we aim to fight child labour from a legal perspective and to create public opinion.
The Scottish fan group Tartan Army, who came to Diyarbakır for the recent Turkey-Scotland football game, also visited RUMUD. Can you tell us about this visit?
It was a great experience for us. First, it was very significant to meet a group with different ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural characteristics and to be able to find common grounds. It also felt good to meet people who, like us, are trying to preserve their traditional and cultural characteristics. In every city they visit, the Scottish fan group donates to an active children’s organisation. We were proud that they found us in Diyarbakır and wanted to donate. We met with the group and talked about what we can do with their donation.
You will implement the Psychosocial Support Workshops project with the grant support provided by our Donor-Advised Fund. Can you tell us about the purpose and activities of the project?
With this grant support, we will organise psychosocial support workshops with 60 children aged 8-16 living in the Sur district of Diyarbakır. With these workshops, we aim to contribute to the improvement of children’s emotional states and memories. Through these workshops, we also aim for children to discover and recognise the cultural diversity in their social environment.
With this grant support, we will organise psychosocial support workshops with 60 children aged 8-16 living in the Sur district of Diyarbakır.
In addition, with the workshops, we aim to empower children against the difficulties they may encounter in their lives, to record individual and social memory, to learn the methods of doing so, and to create spaces where children can discover and express their emotions. In this context, the following workshops will be held based on age groups:
Oral History Workshop: In this workshop, children between the ages of 8-10 will be researchers. They will collect tales and street games from the elderly that are about to be forgotten. The tales and games will be published in a book.
Upcycling Workshop: With this workshop, children aged 8-10 will make toys and handicrafts by recycling waste materials. There will be an exhibition at the end of the workshop for the produced materials.
Music Workshops: In this workshop, children in the 11-13 age group will receive training on how to play “erbane” and vocal training. A choir and rhythm group will be formed to sing in the native languages of the four ethnic groups living in Sur. The choir and rhythm group will perform on stage at the end of the semester.
Philosophy Workshop: This workshop will enable 14-16-year-old children to discuss concepts such as war-peace, good-bad, justice-equality, and non-violence. They will be able to demonstrate the value of knowledge, the importance and method of thinking about concepts and problems, and to find ways to think correctly. Brigitte Labbé’s philosophy books for children will be used as resources.
Photography Workshop: In this workshop, children between the ages of 14-16 will research the historical and cultural heritage of Sur. Places will be visited, photographed, and archived, and a photo exhibition titled Sur through the Eyes of Children will be held in a historical place selected by the children.
RUMUD develops and implements projects to provide equal cultural and social opportunities for children and women who are affected by the conflicts in the Sur-Diyarbakır region. The association organises workshops on arts, gender equality, and respect for differences with 200 children each year and has a toy library through which children can access toys for free. RUMUD also implements activities for women, such as International Women’s Day events, film screenings, and reproductive and sexual health trainings.