“The Magic Lamp” Project for Seasonal Workers

The Magic Lamp (Sihirli Lamba) is one of the two projects selected for 2019 Culture and Arts Fund. The project will provide an opportunity for seasonal agricultural workers to tell about their lives and rights violations they have been facing. The project encourages seasonal agricultural workers to use the “magic lamp” -i.e. camera – to develop their self-awareness, decision-making, responsibility, and planning skills by producing short films about their lives.  30 young people and/or adults in seasonal agricultural worker households from Adana, Ankara and Konya will attend theoretical and practical film shooting training. A selection of the photographs taken throughout the process will be presented in exhibitions and will be used as an advocacy tool. Outputs of the projects will be shared in Adana, Ankara, and Konya through film screenings and exhibitions so that the responsible institutions, organisations or people listen to the stories of seasonal agricultural workers and take action towards improving their living conditions.

The training on short films and the shootings were completed in Adana in February with 10 seasonal agricultural workers. After the three-day Short Film Shooting Training, which was provided by the experts in cooperation with the project partner Atom Film, the shootings were carried out by the seasonal workers under the facilitation and supervision of experts in the tent areas where seasonal agricultural workers were staying. After shootings, the editing was carried out by Atom Film.

Initially, the project activities in Ankara and Konya were planned to be implemented at the beginning of July since most of the seasonal agricultural workers would be present in the tent settlements around this date. However, the trainings were supposed to take place not in open air but in the tents. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it was decided that this training environment would not be healthy both for the participants and the project team. Therefore, the project activities could not be realized as planned in July for the above-mentioned reason.

Please read below our interview with the Development Workshop, who enabled this project, about their work and details on the project.

Development Workshop is implementing the Magic Lamp project with the support of the Turkey Mozaik Foundation under our Culture and Arts Fund. Can you tell us about the aim and activities?

It’s been 18 years since some of the founding partners of the Development Workshop Cooperative were included in the investigation of children’s conditions working in the cotton harvest in Karataş district of Adana. Since 2002, the Development Workshop has conducted research, training and advocacy work for seasonal agricultural workers and for their working or non-working children. In light of the information and experience gained duringthese 18 years, we have a lot to say about human, children, and women’s rights. And we have a lot of work to do in these domains.

Temporary tent settlements, which are the accommodation places of seasonal agricultural workers, are far away from the city, district, or nearest neighbourhood centres. The isolation of these tent settlements, which are mostly on the outskirts of the city, also separates the living spaces of the local people and the immigrant workers. This situation is similar for all seasonal workers; children, youth, adults, women, men, Turkish citizens, or immigrants. For this reason, people face difficulties in accessing the institutions and facilities that offer basic services such as education and health. Besides these basic services; cultural and artistic activities or access to places where these activities take place are even more impossible. This environment is very difficult to live in as a child or young person who is curious about the outside world, who tries to communicate and wants to dream.

In all our fieldwork, the children and young people we have encountered shared that their dreams or hopes were very narrow. There was neither an opportunity to develop their creativity nor an environmental and socio-cultural stimulus. We thought that just giving them the inspiration and courage would enable us to achieve our goal of providing a favourable environment which is a key point in rights-based work. The Magic Lamp Project was designed with this purpose.

With the contribution of Atom Film experts, this project introduces the seasonal agricultural workers who live in Adana, Konya, and Ankara in certain periods of the year to the art of cinema. The project will bring their stories closer to the art of cinema to describe their lives using “the magic lamp” which is the camera. Thus, individuals in seasonal agricultural work will experience using cinema as a tool to express their ideas; developing skills of self-awareness and expression, teamwork, thinking, and planning. They will also prepare an advocacy tool that presents their own lives and violations of their rights with these short films. As the Development Workshop, we will use both the process and the outputs as an advocacy material for the institutions, organisations, or individuals responsible for the provision of the rights of seasonal agricultural workers to listen, hear, see, notice and take action.

As part of the advocacy activities of the Magic Lamp project, you plan to organise events to screen the short films of seasonal agricultural workers and to present photos of the process. What kind of awareness and/or change do you foresee to create with these advocacy activities? Do you think that culture and art activities can be an effective method for the advocacy work of civil society organizations?

Almost all members of the households engaged in seasonal agricultural work become part of this economic activity; children and young people continue in the cycle of poverty due to the lack of education their parents or adults around them.

It is very rare that these individuals, especially children and young people who live a life in indecent conditions in tent settlements in short or long terms, decide anything on their own. Our project will be an experience in which these individuals can voice their opinions for the first time. In addition, this project introduces these individuals, who are far from many facilities and services, to the art of cinema and bring them closer to art. This project allows them to experience art as a means of communication to tell their stories and contribute to solving their problems.

Presenting the lives of these individuals with their own expressions will contribute to the protection of the human rights of seasonal agricultural workers and their children. Cinema can be a tool of rights-based advocacy. This was proven based on people’s reactions after watchingSeasonal Lives” documentary which has been screened in several cities and on our Youtube channel.  Another example of this is the positive feedback of individuals and institutions on the making-of photos of the first short film, the Magic Lamp. These photos were shot by the children of the fertile land of Turkey, Çukurova which we shared on November 20, World Children’s Rights Day.  Within the scope of the project, we think that short films shot by seasonal agricultural workers in Adana, Ankara and Konya and the photo album documenting this process will be one of the most effective methods for our advocacy. We believe that the culture and art activities that provide better use of time and effort, are easier in dissemination and quicker in reaching the masses, especially when compared to research reports, presentations, or lectures.

The Development Workshop has been conducting fieldwork and advocacy activities on social development in Turkey for the last 15 years. Can you tell us about your organisation? Why did you choose to operate as a cooperative?

Humans are engaged in economic activities to meet their needs. The economy, which consists of the Greek words for house “oikia” and the rule “nomos”, means “home management”. Throughout the history of civilization, the economy has also changed with the complexity of the lives of human communities. When it comes to industrialisation, modernisation, development, and urbanisation; the search for alternative solutions for over-consumption, over-production, sharing-aggravated crises and economical crashes continued. In the 1980s, the concept and approach of “Social and Solidarity Economy” presented as an alternative solution, and experts from all over the world, especially in Europe, started to publish reviews and researches in this field of study. This is an attempt to resolve the inequalities and imbalances created by individuals and social life with the civil society movements rather than a revolt. In the simplest sense, it is a more institutional, principled, planned, and systematic way to find a solution to social problems with solidarity-based methods. Thus, the emergence or strengthening of socio-economic actors has been discussed within this approach. The unions, cooperatives, civil society organizations, social enterprises, community-based initiatives are a few of these actors.

The aim is not to undertake the responsibilities that the state promises to its citizens but to eliminate the difficulties and deficiencies in fulfilling some of its obligations. In summary; social economy aims to meet the shortcomings faced by disadvantaged groups, to produce local solutions to social problems, to create sustainable employment and business models, to create support and empowerment mechanisms, to focus on the result with a rights-based and solidarity approach, to balance differences, to create social capital, to increase active citizenship and democratic participation. With their increasing numbers, the social and solidarity economy actors have put community management in a rights-based context with their goals of benefiting the society and civil participation methods.

In the essay “A Short but Fast Walk at The Development Workshop Timeline / An Experiment on Self Criticism“, published in 2018, Assoc. Dr. Yücel Çağlar’s description is the best answer to why we have chosen the cooperative model: “Briefly as the Development Workshop (Kalkınma Atölyesi) or KA, the cooperative is a product of our common hope. Our hope in finding and developing the most liveable way of development.” We encountered many bureaucratic difficulties while trying to establish a cooperative and eventually acquired a legal entity on 3 November 2004. The partners of the Development Workshop Science, Education, Culture, Research, Application, Production and Business Cooperative (Kalkınma Atölyesi Bilim, Eğitim, Kültür, Araştırma, Uygulama, Üretim ve İşletme Kooperatifi) have chosen the cooperative model as “another way to do it”. 7 principles of cooperatives which are “democratic member control, economic participation, autonomy and independence, improvement of education and knowledge, social responsibility and cooperation between cooperatives” summarize why we chose to establish a cooperative  and ourvision. Finally, it should be emphasized that the Development Workshop Cooperative does not distribute its profits according to the Article 60 of its Cooperative Charter titled “Income-Expense Difference and Distribution”. This phrase places Development Workshop as a “non-profit” cooperative and ensures that as an organisation we belong in the civil society field.  You can reach the detailed establishment story of the Development Workshop partners in the 4th issue of our KA Magazine.

Development Workshop works on different topics such as education, aging, social innovation and children’s rights. Can you tell us about the general approach of your organisation and the work your carry out in these areas?

In its 16-year life, the Development Workshop worked on combating child labour across different sectors mainly by providing decent living and working conditions in seasonal agricultural work. In addition, we develop policy suggestions and implementation models by conducting field research in areas such as social development or rural development based on gender equality, cooperative models for young people, bee-friendly ecological cities and schools, vocational education modelling, advocacy and training activities to improve the capacities of local stakeholders. As a rights-based organisation, Development Workshop works within the framework of human, children, women and immigrant rights. For detailed information about our organisation and  about our publications, please visit our website at www.ka.org.tr

As the  Development Workshop, the basis of all the work and activities we carry out is human rights as defined in “the Declaration of Human Rights”. The status of the right holders, their access to, and use of the rights are our main field of studies. For this reason, we suggest different models to the institutions or individuals responsible for the provision of rights and related services on how to improve the existing  situation, to advocate and  take action. Within the framework of our technical knowledge, experience, skills and social capital; every individual and every institution who has interest in our working areas and within the territory of Turkey are our target audience. This also includes immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers.

We can list our ongoing programs, our projects in the last 3 years or the projects that we provide consultancy for as follow: Program to Combat Child Labour in Turkey in cooperation UNICEF and Turkey; Strategy Project for Problems and Needs Analysis of the Syrian Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Groups; UNDP-GEF/SGP Small Supports Fair; Preventing Child Labour in Seasonal Agriculture-Legal and Institutional Gaps Reduction Project with the financial support of the Dutch Embassy; Micro Grant Program of International Children’s Center (ICC) “Magic Lamp Project” (in cooperation with Atom Film and Cyber Respect Association); Amgen Teach Program of Amgen Foundation; 21st Century Activities in Vocational High Schools Project of Koç Holding, Koç School Professional Development Program, Sustainable and Scalable Model Development Project for Vocational High Schools in cooperation with Koç Holding and IBM Turkey; Working Principles in Tobacco Agriculture-Women Manufacturers Training Project in cooperation with Socotab Alliance One Öz Ege, Sivas-Şarkışla Elderly House Evaluation Study in cooperation with Wilde Ganzen Netherlands; UTZ Hazelnut Program Evaluation in cooperation with UTZ Netherlands; Empowerment of Syrian Workers Working in the Textile Sector Research Report in cooperation with CDM.

Development Workshop carries out many researches and projects on the status of child labour in different sectors in Turkey, especially in the seasonal agriculture. Based on your findings  and experience, can you share your recommendations on ways to prevent child labour in Turkey?

Child labour can be defined as children working in jobs that harm their health or their physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development and disrupt their education. In many countries of the world including Turkey, the children are employed at very young ages in dangerous conditions or in jobs that require serious labour that harms them physically and mentally. This prevents their access to education or their success rates in education. There are differences in the causes, results, and content of child labour by location. Child labour, which is a multi-dimensional problem, not only changes the lives of children and families, but also negatively affects society as a whole.

Development Workshop has been doing various research on child labour in seasonal agricultural production on the basis of products and geography since 2002. The data, information, and findings of these research are shared with the public institutions, civil society organisations (CSOs), international organisations , media, private sector at national and international level, and with the United Nations (UN) agencies. We conduct advocacy work on all kinds of platforms to reduce the number of children working in seasonal agriculture, which is defined as the worst form of child labour, to eliminate this form of child labour and to improve their living and working conditions. TAs an organisation we give importance and priority to the under researched subjects in this field and conduct various research and analyses to fill this gap. In addition, we have been taking steps to analyse the situation of children working in several industries including shoes, furniture manufacturing and textiles in recent years.

There is a lot to say about the current status of child labour in Turkey, the root causes, prevention of violations and the child protection. Briefly explaining the problems, needs analysis and solution suggestions leaves the subject incomplete. In addition to sectoral differences; economic, social and political developments directly affect  various aspects of the child labour in terms of timing, intensity and even age range in child labour.

The structure that causes the increase in child labour is multi-layered and complex and it  becomes much more complicated under emergencies. The migration waves that is caused by the war also reinforces the conditions that increases child labour. As the Development Workshop, we propose a multi-actor, interdisciplinary, co-ordinated, continuous and systematic relationship network model, the Model for Combating Child Labour in Seasonal Agricultural Production, by using our existing knowledge, experience and literature. This model is our priority advocacy matter which is prepared in light of all the research we have done in this subject for 16 years and the findings of the our two analysis “Legal Gap Analysis and Suggestions for the Prevention of Child Labour in Agricultural Production” and the “Institutional Gap Analysis and Suggestions for the Prevention of Child Labor in Agricultural Production“.