When I first visited the refugee camp last October Support and Sustain Children launched the Rainbow Tent, an initiative – as the name implies – to provide a space and assistance for the children’s education. It couldn’t be used officially as a school as the local authorities had already halted such a project a few months before.
A week later, and once again the police came and closed it down.
During February’s visit, we assisted on a lesson day in the recently opened “workshop tent” where Jassim – a local teacher – is offering basic training at weekends for a limited number of pupils. I found his resilience remarkable; he’s committed to giving these children the opportunity to read and write at least in Arabic and he’s willing to run this risk. It was a pleasure to see the children focused, relaxed and just happy to be there.
Turkey is among the signatories of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children. It consequently pledges to recognise and enforce – among other basic human rights – the children’s inherent right to life, the respect of their fundamental freedoms, the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy, their protection from economic exploitation, and their preparation for a responsible integration in a free society. This is far from reality on the ground though, with Syrian students not being accepted by local colleges; even a makeshift school for a primal education is not allowed.
Many issues remain unresolved for these refugees, and much vital aid is needed in the short term. Food, water, shelter from the elements, medical assistance, but above all, they must receive their primary education, find work with which regain their dignity, and once again be in possession of the independence we all value so much.
If the absolute basics are not provided, what next for these children? It’s likely to be the same familiar story; marriage at an early age, start a family, and thereafter – destined for the rest of their lives – to remain illiterate, work in the fields for a few pennies and with a tent for a home.
Have you ever been cold, hungry or sick and the only way to get by was hoping for a better tomorrow? Have you ever been dreamless?
Please help Support and Sustain Children give the dream of a better future.