As I discussed in an earlier post, we’ve run into more logistical hoops in doing this project than we had hoped. In fact, part of the challenge so far has been figuring out which permissions we actually need to get, and from whom. Bureaucratic details make for a lousy blog entry, so let me just say this: it’s been difficult for me, as a photographer, to spend so much time discussing the project, and so little time making photographs.
Therefore, I approached our meeting this morning with frustration and mild annoyance. We were meeting with an organization in Istanbul that provides legal services to refugees in Turkey. (In this post, I will not be naming the organizations we consulted. The politics surrounding everything to do with refugees is so sensitive that we’ve decided to keep their names off this blog post.)
As it turned out, we finally found answers to many of our remaining questions. We also got important contact information for people working in Gaziantep, in South-Eastern Turkey, where there is a large refugee camp, as well as a large Syrian population living outside the camp. And, it looks like we might be holding our first art therapy sessions early next week. Finally!
In fact, things seem to be coming together for our move to southern Turkey. We met again last night with a German journalist who covers the Arab world for DPA in Germany. She is looking into connecting us with a school she supports in Gaziantep, which would help us enormously.
The photos I’m posting today are from a walk David & I took this afternoon, once the meetings were finally over. It is such a relief to me to walk and photograph the city after all the negotiations. I’m looking forward to starting the art therapy and photography portions of the project…soon.
One additional note: we’ve managed to weave our way through the intricacies of a foreign bureaucracy only thanks to the help of a few wonderful folks. In particular, Ezgi Içöz has helped us enormously this week. Ezgi, in case loyal blog readers have forgotten, is a Turkish art therapist who did her educational training in San Francisco. She speaks perfect English, and has done a lot of work translating for us. She is also the reason we were finally able to get the meeting we had this morning, after trying for several weeks. And she has provided incredible moral support from the beginning. We are so thrilled to be working with her. Thank you Ezgi!
And finally, thanks to our friend George Georgiou for sending us a link to this article in The Guardian on the crisis that Syrian refugee children are facing today. It reminds us why the work of therapists like Ezgi is so important.