Category: Children

Reyhanli by David Gross

Reyhanli by David Gross

Much to my delight, it snowed here in Reyhanli on Wednesday. It was beautiful, and although the snow in the streets melted quickly, the surrounding hills remained dusted with white.

Snow in the Syrian hills above home construction in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, David Gross

Snow in the Syrian hills above home construction in the Turkish town of Reyhanli, David Gross

And of course, as beautiful as it is, it also makes life incredibly difficult for all the families who are living here without heat, not to mention those living in nearby camps. This thought reminds us that the hurdles we face in doing this project are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.

But speaking of hurdles, our latest minor challenge has been power outages. Although we have no idea if this is related to the snow, the power was out in the entire city of Reyhanli for most of Wednesday and Thursday. The streets, however, remained active with life, including these two boys we met making the most of the weather:

Turkish boys pose with their snowman, David Gross

Turkish boys pose with their snowman, David Gross

It snowed again today, and we were worried that we wouldn’t have a chance to work (in part because of power outages, and in part because the school we are working with is closed on Fridays). We started the day by walking through Reyhanli as it snowed (I’ve been shooting primarily with film lately, so this blog post will contain mostly images by David):

Mieke in Reyhanli, David Gross

Mieke in Reyhanli, David Gross

As we were walking, David’s phone rang. It was our friend, Mohamad, and he had arranged for a group of boys to participate in an art session at a nearby tea house. Our friend, Tamador, was available to lead the session. We were so thrilled.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, both Mohamad and Tamador are volunteer teachers at the Syrian school that is working with us. Tamador also provides psychological support for its students, and she was leading art sessions with the children before we arrived in Reyhanli.

Both Mohamad and Tamador also work for the Maram Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by a group of Syrian-Americans to provide aid to Syrian refugees, both within Syria and here in southern Turkey. The Maram Foundation has been incredibly supportive of our project, and we are most grateful. We are also incredibly grateful to Mohamad and Tamador for their help and hard work. They have done so much for us in such a short amount of time, and we cannot thank them enough. !شكرا

Thanks to Mohamad and Tamador, the class today was wonderful. Here’s a photo Tamador took of David with the boys:

David with a group of boys from Syria, by Tamador

David with a group of boys from Syria, by Tamador

It was a really good day! We’ll share some drawings, and perhaps some photos, in a later post.

I’ll end with one of the few digital photos I’ve taken recently, of a new playground in Reyhanli:

New playground in Reyhanli, Mieke Strand

New playground in Reyhanli, Mieke Strand

 

Görüşürüz! -Mieke !إلى اللقاء

We visited two Syrian schools in Istanbul today. There is much to say — not everything is how we expected! — but for now, we are exhausted, so we will just post this short entry. (David says, “If I’m writing oddly, it’s because my language skills are all twisted up. I’ve been speaking pidgin Turkish all day, when I wasn’t listening to long Arabic dialogs.”)

At the first school we visited today in Istanbul we were shown a few small drawings. Two struck us as unusual. The first is a tiny drawing at the bottom of the page, in response to the question, what would you like to be? The child drew a picture of a doctor…with a dead patient.

A child's drawing on a development test. The drawing is of what the child wishes to become, a doctor in this case. The patient, however, is already dead.

A child’s drawing on a development test. The drawing is of what the child wishes to become, a doctor in this case. The patient, however, is already dead.

The second drawing was done elsewhere, and it is of a refugee camp for Syrians inside Turkey. The artist is an 11-year-old girl who is now working in a clothing store to make money, we were told.

The drawing of a refugee camp for Syrians in Turkey by an 11-year-old girl. She now works in a clothing store in Istanbul to make money.

The drawing of a refugee camp for Syrians in Turkey by an 11-year-old girl. She now works in a clothing store in Istanbul to make money.

After visiting our second school we had to rush to an internet cafe so our fixer/interpreter, Khalid, could send a photo to some government office before closing time. There, not so far from the Syrian school filled with shell-shocked children, I saw a group of Turkish (probably Kurdish) children playing video war games….

Children play war games in an internet cafe not far from a Syrian school.

Children play war games in an internet cafe not far from a Syrian school.

A Turkish child in an internet cafe not far from the Syrian school plays war games on a computer.

A Turkish child in an internet cafe not far from the Syrian school plays war games on a computer.

Görüşürüz! -David

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