Street kids turned hockey champs to compete in Slovenia

Street kids turned hockey champs to compete in Slovenia

The Gaziantep Police Force field hockey team will represent Turkey in the European Open Field Clubs Championship, to be held in Slovenia.

The Gaziantep Police Force Field Hockey Team — made up entirely of former street children — has been the nationwide field hockey champion three years running, and will represent Turkey in the European Open Field Clubs Championship to be held in Slovenia on May 8-11.

The team was established in 2003 and finished its first hockey season in its 14-team league in fourth place. Its success then and now is attributable to government-civilian cooperation, the combined efforts of Yusuf Kasım, the trainer of the national field hockey team and a physical education teacher, police officers from the Gaziantep Police Department, businessmen in Gaziantep and the young players. Of the team’s 15 players, 14 have played in national matches and four have been granted national player status; some have even begun studying at sports academies.

But the team got off to a rocky start. Kasım says that when they first began, they had to hold practices on streets and at parks. “They have been working with me since they were 13. When we were working at the park, some children watching would come and ask what we were doing. They soon developed interests in hockey and started to work with us. They are now playing national matches,” he notes. Kasım indicates that Asım Akçacı, a star on the team, used to sniff glue. “We’ve managed to create a hockey player out of him. Now, he’s the team captain. He has played in 19 national matches — we are proud of him,” he says.

Akçacı is very grateful to his coach, who he credits for saving him from the bad habit. “After meeting Kasım, I was saved from the streets and addiction. I call on all addicted children to engage in sports and thus escape,” he says.





Solve the Problem of Street Children

Kulca, president of the Hope Children’s Association, spoke on Yön Radio: “The problem of children being pushed into the streets could be solved within a year.”

Bıa news centre


The Umut (Hope) Children’s’ Association was founded in order to bring children and young people pushed into the streets back into society.

President of the association, Yusuf Kulca, has said that if the municipalities cooperated, the problem could be solved within a year.

Speaking on Yön Radio’s weekly slot of “My Universities”, pedagogue Kulca spoke about what needed to be done as well as the work the association carries out.

Night shelters and rehabilitation needed

The association is working on founding a rehabilitation centre in Catalca, a district of Istanbul around 50 km to the North-west of the city centre. Kulca also emphasized that as a priority shelter had to be offered to children living on the streets:

"Children and young people living on the streets need somewhere to stay at night, and this needs to be provided by the municipalities. In Istanbul, at least 10 night shelters need to be founded. Istanbul’s 32 district municipalities need to come together and collaborate on a common project. They have not done anything on this issue yet, but the problem could be solved within a year if there were a project under the coordination of the Greater Istanbul Municipality."

Migrant children supporting their families 

Kulca pointed out that big cities were receiving more and more migration:

“People think that families migrate to big cities. But really, 14 to 15-year olds live in in houses for single people and try to support their families. On average, 25 people live together in three-room flats. They do this to earn a little bit of money. Cities have to stop being centres of migration, because they breed population explosions and safety problems.”

Kulca also spoke about the prejudices which others had about street children. The children were not being helped, they were also looked down upon; this was mainly due to the negative news coverage of street children.

“We try to create an environment which protects us from these children, who we have taken out of the education system, and who then face us as problems.” (EK/GG/AG)

Creativity for charity: inek var

Creativity for charity: inek var
Last week I told the story of how I made a language mistake in my early years, trying to get off the dolmuş (shared taxi) in Şişli. Instead of saying I want to get off (İnecek var!) I shouted out “There is a cow!” (inek var!). One little syllable makes all the difference. However, were I to be on a dolmuş in Şişli this week, I would probably hear my fellow Turkish passengers say “inek var” — for İstanbul has become the 54th city in the world to hold a Cow Parade.

Cow Parade is the world’s largest outdoor art-show for charity. In 1998 the parade decorated Zurich, the brainchild of window-dresser Walter Knapp, who wanted to support local artistic talent while decorating shop windows. The original cows were, therefore, modeled after real Swiss cows. Last year, cows were seen in cities as varied as Paris, Edinburgh, Athens, Lisbon, Budapest, Mexico City, Tokyo, Boston and Denver. Basically, famous people design outfits/color schemes for cows. The models are then created and exhibited around the city. At the end of the period, the cows are auctioned for charity.

The cows are life-size and made of fiberglass. They are brightly colored and decorated according to different designs, and 150 of them are decorating streets from Nişantaşı to Maslak. Don’t be surprised if you bump into one in a shopping center or museum garden, either. The cows come in three different poses: standing up, grazing and lying down.

İstanbul’s cow parade opened this month and continues until Oct. 31. This herd of cows has been designed by such famous people as Cemil İpekçi, Ömer Koç, Rıfat Özbek and Sezen Aksu.

To date the parades have raised over $10 million for charity. The recipients of Istanbul’s Cow Parade proceeds will be the Mother and Child Education Foundation (AÇEV), the Turkish Foundation for Reforestation, Protection of Natural Habitats and Combating Soil Erosion (TEMA) and the Street Kids Rehabilitation Association.

What a wonderful idea, to mix decorating the city and an open-air art exhibition, with raising money for charity. I love creative ways of raising money. We all want to feel that we are doing something to help others less fortunate than ourselves. If this activity can be made a pleasurable one, rather than a drab duty, then this is great for both giver and receiver. The origin of the word “charity” is, after all, the Latin word for “love,” and the Bible teaches us that God loves a cheerful giver.

Well, these cows are definitely cheerful and they brighten up Istanbul’s streets. I thought I would explore the work of the charities they will be supporting, to learn about the lives that will also be brightened by the exhibition.

The Mother Child Education Foundation aims to help mothers and fathers raise happy and healthy children. Their work has two prongs. Firstly, they work to enable parents to develop parenting skills and support them in raising their children. Secondly, they are heavily involved in pre-school education for underprivileged children. You may have seen their television ads that encourage parents to spend time with their kids, or heard their slogan that “age seven is very late” to start education. Check out their Web site:

TEMA’s primary goal is to raise social awareness about the dangers of soil erosion in Turkey. Perhaps their best-known activity is planting trees across the country, but they are also very involved in trying to stop migration by creating employment opportunities in rural areas. They have 35 rural development projects in various parts of the country. Find out more on their Web site:

The Street Kids Rehabilitation Association is dedicated to reaching street kids and enabling them to be re-integrated into society. They aim at protecting them, meeting their physical, educational and emotional needs and providing “first step stations” as safe houses to slowly bring them back into society. Their Web site has limited information in English:

So as the cows bring a smile to your face, remember that they will bring a smile to the faces of many underprivileged children and families in Turkey.

“There is a cow” — until Oct. 31, yes there is. And more than that “there is a heart that cares” on the streets of Istanbul.

Dutch artists to teach street children

Dutch artists to teach street children

Thursday, April 26, 2007

IZMIR – Turkish Daily News

  A group of Dutch artists came to provide activities and lessons for street children including theatre, pantomime, and dance to be performed at squatters’ housing districts for the week of April 23.

  Theater player Sihali Yalincer, who came with the Dutch group, told Anatolia News Agency that they came to Izmir to teach dance, pantomime and theatre to the children who sell tissues and shine shoes in the streets. Stating that they would perform a show in the squatters’ housing district, Yalciner said with vehicles donated by different art foundations, they would take the street children to Amsterdam to perform their show together there as well.

  The project called �From 7 to 70� is open to all who want to stay young at heart. �With the children from these districts, we will bring out the inner child within us. Our colleagues all came wholeheartedly. Just like doctors who answer the call of anyone in need, we too go to these districts to answer the call for more cultural activities,� said Yalincer.

  A famous Dutch artist group’s director Rene Kres, 63, also said that with Yalciner they support each other’s project. Stating that he came to Turkey before for the 23rd of April’s National Sovereignty and Children Holiday to provide the children with pantomime lessons, Kress said, �It is great to accept Atatürk’s idea of a children’s holiday on the 23rd of April, because children are our future, which is significant for world peace.� Working as a professional dancer in Holland, Nancy Dorette, 28, said she came to Turkey to provide the children with the gift of dance.

A green-fingered helping hand for street kids

A green-fingered helping hand for street kids
The Adana Street Kids Association’s Center for Teen Education has added courses on organic agricultural production to its program to decrease social risks and improve the lot of Adana’s poverty-stricken youth.

The head of the education center, Zuhal Bayıldıran, told reporters from the Anatolia news agency that the new program will take kids off the streets and provide them with employment. Many of the families in the region are low income and allow their kids to work out on the streets to help ends meet. While the center has provided various public services to its community, there has been an increase in the number of children on the streets in recent years, Bayıldıran said. She added that they have programs to help children attend school, graduate and continue on to college. “We’ve helped about 1,000 children attend school,” she noted.

The center has educational projects supported by the EU and UN that intend to provide services for children of poor families that have not finished school and/or work in very low paying jobs.

“As part of EU-funded programs we have a project called “From the streets to the future.” To continue this project the Adana governorship has provided the center with a 173-acre field. The field will serve as an employment opportunity as well as a sports ground for the children. We’ve also begun greenhouse and organic production courses with the help of Dr. Nurgül Türemiş from Çukurova University. In our first session we gave 35 people classes on organic production. In our second session, we will have 10 groups of 30 people. The organic vegetables and fruit that are produced will be given to the members of the association for economic support.”

To date, 150 kids have received training on cooking, decorating, car maintenance and agriculture. Of those who received training, 47 have gone on to find employment, Bayıldıran said.

Twenty-five-year-old Erman Inceler, who used to work as a field laborer, has completed the courses on organic production provided by the center and wants to help people like himself. “I was familiar with farming so after I received my certificate on organic strawberry production I began to work at the center. Now it’s my turn to teach. I am honored that I will be able to help street kids and poverty-stricken people.”


Ali Güreli  Adana

Street kids in Gaziantep given vocational training

Street kids in Gaziantep given vocational training
The Vocational Education and Rehabilitation Center opened by the administrative district of Şahinbey in the southeastern city of Gaziantep has rescued 563 children, aged between 7 to 18, from a life on the streets.

With the help of the program 160 children have been given certificates for learning in different fields and 36 have returned to school. The center, which also gives vocational education to the parents of these children, has been nominated as the year’s exemplary social service project within the context of the Project of Minimizing Social Risks (SRAP).

The center, located in the Etiler neighborhood of the district, also serves people during the weekend due to high demand. The personnel work on weekends voluntarily. About 150 children benefit from various services every day. Those under 13 years of age make bracelets, necklaces and earrings in the jewelry workshop. They also ornament candles, lampshades and clay pots of various sizes with beads. While a group of "small hands" weave rugs in the looming workshop, another group of teenagers sew bags in a separate workshop. Young girls also receive vocational training for home services.

The activities in the center will soon turn into a system of "50 percent education, 50 percent production." A kindergarten for children under 6 years of age offers nursing services free of charge, as well as education for the children of parents trained in the center. The children and their families have weekly health check-ups and the children are transported to the center by service buses, which are also free of charge.

In some cases parents are trained in the same workshop as their children. Weaving rugs on the same loom with her daughters, Rabia İnan is one of those parents. İnan, whose husband has been unable to work for eight years due to a problem with his leg, has taken up the responsibility of looking after her husband along with her five children by working as a cleaner. "I come here to master my weaving skills. If they donate us a loom I will weave rugs with my daughters and thus be able to send my other children to school," says Rabia İnan, who has to leave two of her children at home to attend the courses.

Lütfiye Kayıkçı, a tutor who works voluntarily in the center on weekends, says that she is really happy to be a part of a project that saves children from the dangerous life in the street and teach them good manners, thereby making them each good citizens.

Founded with contributions from the local government of the district along with the Fund of Conditional Cash Transfer with $220,000 in funds, the center carries out its activities under the coordination of Social Services for Child Protection Agency (SHÇEK). Currently 956 people have benefited from the vocational training, rehabilitation, psychological support and nursing services. Some 300 people who have enrolled for the services are on a waiting list, due to the limited capacity of the center. The State Ministry for women’s and family affairs is planning to convert the center into the Gaziantep Center for Children and Youth (ÇOGEM) at the end of 2007.




Street Children catch purse snatchers

Street Children catch purse snatchers – Star:

  A young girl, Meltem Dal, attacked by a purse snatcher in Beyoğlu yesterday, was rescued by the street children who live at the Kids of Hope (Umut Çocukları) Association, the Star daily reported yesterday. Dal realized her purse was opened and caught the 15-year-old snatcher girl from her arm. However, when the snatcher’s mother appeared suddenly, she started to harass Dal, the daily wrote yesterday. The street children from the association came to rescue Dal as soon as they heard her screaming.

  Two street children held the snatcher mother and daughter until police arrived. The kids calmed Dal down. No one but these street children helped her and she owes her life to these kids, said Star.

Street children’s dreams come true

Street children’s dreams come true
Sunday, January 7, 2007
The Solid Waste Recycling Project aims to educate street children, giving them a brighter future than they could ever have hoped for

ISTANBUL – Anatolia news agency

  The dream of some 350 street children has come true, thanks to income from the Solid Waste Recycling Project carried out jointly by the City Council Environmental Commission and Mersin Street Children Association, the Anatolia news agency reported.

  Children who were surviving by begging or selling chewing gum and handkerchiefs on the streets are now attending school via the project, which has been carried out by five municipalities over the past four years. Each of the children has different aspirations and dreams, but most want to become a teacher in the future.

  Mersin Street Children Association Chairwoman Sabahat Aslan told Anatolia that members of the association collect solid waste products like cardboard from homes within contracted municipalities. �By selling the waste we make money. That’s how we started to finance the school expenses of the street children,� she said.

  Stating that the project was gradually growing and achieving its purpose, Aslan added: �As we see the success of students in their school, we are proud of our project. With this project, we are producing solutions to the problem of street children all over the country and bringing wealth to the nation which would otherwise be wasted.�

  Aslan called for all people to join the project and said: �Maybe each carton or similar product thrown into the trash will make a street child’s dreams come true. This is why, if our people become a little more sensitive about [recycling] solid waste, our project will be able to reach its goal more rapidly.

The dream and success of two brothers:

  Brothers 14-year-old S.A. and 12-year-old M.A., who were trying to make a contribution to their family’s economy by begging for money on the streets of Mersin, were saved from the streets and are now attending school. They both want to become teachers and due to their success at school are warmly appreciated by staff there.

  S.A. said that he had been begging on the streets and had sometimes felt bad when he saw his peers attending school. He stated that officials from the Mersin Street Children Association had reached him and proposed he give up working on the streets to attend school and expressed his excitement at started attending the school with the following words:

  "Every time I saw my peers attending school I was jealous of them. I talked with my family and accepted the proposal from the Mersin Street Children Association. And I started wearing the school uniform I had wanted so much. I feel very different in it. Now I am studying with my school friends … Although I came to school under narrow circumstances, I will become a teacher and work so that other street children can also attend school, because I don’t want other children to go through the feelings I did."

Poll: Street children hopeful for future

Poll: Street children hopeful for future

Friday, December 8, 2006
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

  A survey looking into street children and their problems has revealed that children have greater expectations for the future, though they are barely able to earn a living under difficult conditions.

  �Living Conditions and Future Expectations of Street Children,� carried out by Anadolu University in the central Anatolian province of Eskişehir, aimed at exposing problems encountered by street children and making recommendations to solve those problems. Some 198 street children between the ages of nine and 14, 13 of whom were girls, were surveyed.

  According to the survey street children who make their living by selling simit (savory rolls covered with sesame seeds), tissues and gum or by shining shoes earn an income that is below the minimum wage, which in Turkey is around YTL 400. Surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of those polled don’t have any bad habits despite the negative environment they live in and have greater expectations for the future.

  Some 70 percent of street children in Eskişehir attend schools and work outside in order to meet their school expenses, according to the survey. But they are not successful at school courses since they spend most of their time working in the streets.

  Approximately 50 percent want to join the military, become a doctor, a policeman or an engineer. Ninety-seven percent of respondents smoke, according to the survey. One-and-a-half percent were subjected to sexual abuse and 8 percent survived being hit by a car.

  Yener Şişman of Anadolu University said the laws were insufficient in preventing the problems faced by street children but added it would be possible to generate solutions by looking for the roots of the problems. �In Turkey almost 3.85 million out of a total of 28 million children work in the streets. The number of street children is increasing by the day. There is a need for sound projects in order to solve such social problems,� he said.

  �Children who are forced to work in the streets can be subject to unhealthy conditions in their working environment. The problem of street children persists because the roots of the problem remain unsolved, the distribution of income is unfair and poverty remains a problem,� he added.

Street children saved via sports

Street children saved via sports

The New Anatolian / Ankara
31 October 2006

The police in a northwestern city have saved 90 children from streets over the last seven months.

Kocaeli’s Gebze district police has rehabilitated some 90 street children so far with a project aiming to adapt them to society through sports.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency yesterday, Gebze Police Force Sports Club Association Press Secretary Vahap Turfanda said that the project, which was launched for the rehabilitation of street children, has been going on for seven months.

Turfanda, underlining that the association was established with the idea that the best way to steer street children away from bad habits is sports, said that the administrators of the civil group led by Gebze Police Chief Ali Sahinli are mainly businessmen and bureaucrats.

He also said that Gebze attracts many people and receives much migration due to its industrial zone.

He added they try to rescue children from the streets and bad habits such as substance abuse and smoking through instilling a love of sports in light of the principles of Turkish Republic founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who stressed sports to raise healthy generations.

Turfanda also said that they saw significant changes in children who took part in the project, since their self-confidence improved.

Apart from giving them an opportunity to take part in sports activities, the association also provides financial support by buying them shoes, T-shirts and sports equipment and giving their families YTL 200 monthly.

He also called on the Gebze townspeople, public institutions and non-governmental organizations to contribute to their efforts to adapt street children to the society.