On 27-28 July, we embarked on our fifth Study Trip to Istanbul, where we delved into captivating discussions with civil society experts and some of our current grantees, exploring pressing issues and impactful stories.
We began at the Impact Hub Istanbul, where Ulaş Tol from the TEAM Social Impact Research Centre led us on Türkiye’s journey in the past year. The panel “Civil Society in 2023 and Beyond” hosted Gözde Durmuş from Istanbul Bilgi University’s Child Studies Unit, Gülfer Kırbaş from Lotus Women’s Solidarity and Life Association, and Ulaş Bayraktar from Kültürhane who discussed children’s rights, gender equality, and culture & arts.
Durmuş emphasised the need for comprehensive policy changes to protect children’s rights and the issue of missing and unaccompanied minors following the Kahramanmaras earthquakes. She also shared significant findings from the Child’s Well-being Istanbul Research, shedding light on crucial areas for improvement.
Kırbaş highlighted the importance of adopting a gender perspective in post-disaster interventions for the empowerment of women and girls. Recognising the unique challenges they face during such crises, she emphasised the importance of tailored support and inclusion in relief efforts. Bayraktar stressed the need to allocate funds and resources to smaller grassroots organisations to foster their growth and enable them to make a lasting impact through their community-oriented initiatives.
Gözde Durmuş: “In the earthquake-affected areas, activities that support adolescents’ well-being are almost non-existent, so adolescents have become much more emotionally withdrawn.”
The afternoon sessions focused on the Kahramanmaras earthquakes, as Sema Karaosmanoğlu from Support to Life Association (Hayata Destek Derneği), Emre Gündoğdu from Architecture for All Association (Herkes için Mimarlık Derneği), and Melsen Tunca from TOKTUT (Toktut’mak Elimizde Derneği) offered insights into the ground reality in the affected regions.
Karaosmanoğlu emphasised Support to Life’s unwavering commitment to adapt to evolving needs, establish collaborative spaces for local organisations, and share valuable field experience and knowledge to guide international partners effectively. Gündoğdu offered a detailed account of the community centre built by the Architecture for All Association in Kahramanmaras and he provided insights into their upcoming project of rebuilding the demolished ALİKEV building in Hatay with the support of our grant. Tunca revealed how TOKTUT quickly identified and addressed the critical need for enabling survivors’ access to clean water and healthy food immediately after the earthquakes.
Sema Karaosmanoğlu: “The debris removed in the aftermath of the Kahramanamas earthquakes surpassed that of the 1999 earthquake in Türkiye by 13 times.”
The second day unfolded at the Postane Istanbul, a historical building known as the British Post Office in Galata, Beyoğlu. Our morning panel featured Çiğdem Yumbul from the Turkish Psychologists Association Istanbul Branch, and Seda Çavuşoğlu and Tuğba Arslan from the Turkish Family Health and Planning Foundation (Türkiye Aile Sağlığı ve Planlaması Vakfı) who shared their experiences in providing essential psychosocial support, combating gender-based violence, and fostering the well-being of adolescents in earthquake-affected areas.
Yumbul talked about the Psychosocial Support Centre, which was established in Osmaniye with the aid of our grants. She detailed the organisation and implementation of psychosocial support activities on the ground, emphasising the crucial role of such initiatives in addressing the emotional needs of the survivors. Çavuşoğlu and Arslan stressed the urgency of sexual and reproductive health activities in the earthquake-affected regions, underscoring their significance in promoting the overall well-being and empowerment of all individuals.
Çiğdem Yumbul: “It is crucial for psychologists assisting earthquake-affected individuals to undergo trauma-specific training and supervision to protect the well-being of the volunteers themselves.”
Next, we explored past disasters and interventions with Nil Tibukoğlu from the Basic Needs Association (Temel İhtiyaç Derneği), Elif Deniz Ülker from the Nature Conservation Centre Foundation (Doğa Koruma Merkezi Vakfı), and Ayşegül Yalçın Eriş from the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (Sığınmacılar ve Göçmenlerle Dayanışma Derneği). They shared the impact of previous projects supported by our grants and how these projects continue to influence their current activities.
Ayşegül Yalçın Eriş: “As the climate crisis intensifies, migration and displacement will increase all over the world, and this is just the beginning.”
The day continued with a delightful lunch with Serra Titiz from the Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development Association, Deniz Umut Eker from Ali Ismail Korkmaz Foundation – ALIKEV, and Banu Binbaşaran Tüysüzoğlu from Roots & Shoots Turkey, where we had the opportunity to learn more about their activities.
The last session of the day was a roundtable with grant-giving organisations, the Civil Society Development Centre (Sivil Toplum Geliştirme Merkezi), Turkish Philanthropy Funds, Sivil Düşün EU Programme, Sabancı Foundation, Hafıza Merkezi, and the Dalyan Foundation, where we engaged in enlightening discussions on how to better support civil society efforts and explore potential collaborations.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the speakers and participants for making these two days in Istanbul so inspiring and motivating. A special thank you goes to the team at Support Foundation for Civil Society, our partner in Türkiye, for organising this trip and being exceptional hosts. Please view the video below for a sneak peek at the highlights from this year’s Study Trip. Looking forward to it together next year!