The Colourful Hopes Association works for children’s rights

The Colourful Hopes Association (Rengarenk Umutlar Derneği) is one of our 2020 Children’s Fund Grantees. Our grant aims to strengthen the financial sustainability of the association. A “Financial Governance Principles and Strategy” document was created and institutional processes were organized in accordance with this document. The association recruited an employee to work within the framework of this core fund. To complement this grant, capacity building support will also be provided.

Please see below our interview with the Colourful Hopes Assocation about their work:

Can you share with us why and how the Colourful Hopes Association was established?

There has been ongoing civil unrest in the region for about 35 years and the conflicts in Diyarbakır’s Sur district affected the children the most. During thiss time, many rights of children, including their right to life, were violated.

Violence against children, sexual abuse, child labour and deaths, child marriages and deprivation of education in the mother tongue is in the public agenda of both Diyarbakır and Turkey. The region faced serious challenges due to the lack of civil society organizations (CSOs) working on children’s rights, especially for those children who witnessed the conflicts during the clashes that started in Sur district at the end of 2015 and the curfews imposed afterwards. A small group of volunteers, who worked in the field and especially in the Sur region for many years to eliminate these problems, established the Colourful Hopes Association as a result of this situation.

Colourful Hopes Association carries out activities to develop and spread the culture of universal human rights and children rights by ensuring the promotion of international human rights standards, especially stated under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition, we aim to cooperate with disadvantaged groups such as women and children who are exposed to discrimination and social and cultural exclusion, to support the access of these groups to public services and basic rights and to work for solving their social, cultural, educational and health-related problems. Our focus is to contribute to the healing of children between the ages of 5-18 who are affected by the conflicts in Sur district. To accomplish that, we conduct socio-cultural and socio-psychological activities with children. For this purpose, the Colourful Hopes Association:

• organizes post-traumatic support workshops with social workers and children’s rights specialists,

• implements activities to support the restoration of the social and cultural structure that has been disrupted by the conflicted environment, migration and similar social events or natural disasters,

• conducts needs assessments for target groups and provides training on areas of need and,

• carries out preventive and reformative activities to support access to basic services with rights-based methods.

As the Colourful Hopes Association, you are working with women as well as children. Can you tell us about the scope of your work with women and its impact on children?

Although our focus is on children, we do not exclude families from the scope of our work. When we organise workshops and training for the development of children’s life skills and awareness, we enable the family to take responsibility for the development of the child and actively participates in the process.

We observed that when the issues such as gender, child rights, peer bullying, growth-development and abuse are simultaneously transferred to the family and the child in these training and workshops, the change we expect occurs faster in the child. However, while workshops for children are held at the association’s centre, we hold sessions for women in their homes because some women cannot come to the association’s centre due to social roles. We organize seminars on issues such as women’s rights, domestic violence, child-adolescent psychology, home accidents, forced marriages and reproductive health in addition to the above-mentioned topics for women who come together in groups of ten. We collaborate with local CSOs working in these subjects.

You cooperate with many civil society organizations operating in Diyarbakır and working in the field of children’s rights. Sur Children’s Festival, which you organized in June 2019, is one of the important examples of this cooperation. Can you tell us about the activities organized within the scope of the festival and how the festival contributed to the lives of the children in the region?

The Sur Children’s Festival, which has been organized by Diyarbakır Sur Municipality for many years, has not been held since 2015 due to the political environment. In this process, Children First Association (Önce Çocuklar Derneği) made a call to all CSOs working with children in Diyarbakır to develop on this idea further and to organize the festival together.

We would like to thank the Children First Association for taking an initiative to organise the festival. Quickly after several meetings; we organised the festival collectively with Colourful Hope Association, Lotus, ÇocukÇA, Ecology Association, DSM, MedDER, Laleş Art House, Amidart Culture & Art Community, Anadolu Kültür, ZimZim, International Children’s Care, Middle East Cinema Association, Diyarbakır Chamber of Commerce, Diyarbakır Sur Municipality and Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality. It was very important for us to bring children’s rights to the agenda of the city and for children to participate in workshops with various contents for 5 days.

Each CSO participated in the festival with their own workshops and as the Colourful Hopes  Association, we contributed by organising different activities such as toy making, mandala workshop and end-of-term activity. On the 4th day of the festival, we took the stage to perform our drama program that continued until the end of the term and also presented a performance as part of the music program. Our orchestra performed with natural rhythm and choral groups. Our folk-dance team performed their show and the early childhood education group presented songs and a dance show. In addition, during the festival, we participated in different programs across the city with approximately 100 children.

You received a core grant within the scope of our Child Fund with the financial support of the Turkey Mozaik Foundation. Can you tell us how you will use this grant?

First of all, we would like to thank the Support Foundation for Civil Society and the Turkey Mozaik Foundation. As you mentioned, we will use this grant to develop a roadmap for fundraising, which is the weakest area of our association. We have been active for the last three years and we were able to build on our organisational capacity on many issues. Fundraising has recently become an area we prioritize to strengthen our capacity in terms of accessing resources effectively to make sure that we will be able to carry out our goals and activities. In addition, the human resource support we received within the scope of this grant has also been an important opportunity for our association in terms of conducting our activities faster and more effectively.

It is expected that some changes will occur in the areas of work and operations of civil society organizations as a result of the measures taken within the scope of the COVID-19 outbreak and in parallel with the needs emerging in this period. How did COVID-19 outbreak affect the work that you carry out under this grant? Can you share if there are any methods you used in this period to continue with your work?

We will continue to stay at home until the COVID-19 outbreak, which continues to spread rapidly in our country as well as all over the world, is under control.  We continue to do many of our activities using online methods and so far, we did not have a disruption in our daily desk jobs. We try to carry out all our meetings online by adapting to the new situation. We will create our fundraising policy by holding online meetings with our mentor, whom we work with as additional support added to the grant we received from the Support Foundation for Civil Society.

Since most activities of our association take place in-person with children, we quickly started looking for an alternative way to adapt to this situation. In this process, the children lost thee social environments they commonly used such as the schools, streets, parks, classrooms, courses and gardens where they could exist. To understand the current situation of the children who we work with, we made phone calls to 115 children and we reached the conclusion that they could not make sense of the process that started with COVID-19. The promotion of “Stay at Home” slogan which was developed by the government revived the trauma they experienced from the previous curfews and caused anxiety disorder. For this reason, we decided to reach children through teleconference to provide psychosocial support with volunteers from various occupational groups such as psychologists, child development specialists, healthcare professionals and musicians.

About “The Colourful Hopes Association” (Rengarenk Umutlar Derneği)

The Colourful Hopes Association (Rengarenk Umutlar Derneği) realizes socio-cultural and socio-psychological projects in order to provide equal cultural and social opportunities for children and women who is affected by conflicts in the Sur-Diyarbakır region, live in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, and exposed to discrimination. The association, which began its activities at the end of 2017, organized many workshops on drama, choir, art, gender equality, respect for differences with about 200 children in a year. A toy library where children can access toys for free was also established. In addition, the association organises social activities and visits to theatre, cinema, summer camp and aquarium.The association has also implemented many social and educational activities for women in the neighbourhoods, such as the International Women’s Day events, film screenings, reproduction and sexual health trainings.