Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Assisting Syrian Refugees

In 2006, while traveling through Syria, I was blown away by the hospitality of the Syrian people. Ever since the civil war started there in 2010, I have wanted to find a way to help Syrian refugees forced to flee from their country. While in Istanbul, Cause & Affect sought a hands-on way to help.

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Nearly half of the estimated 4 Syrian million refugees are currently living in Turkey. While hundreds of  thousands live in refugee camps, around 300,000 of them are living in Istanbul.

While they are granted rights to education and medical treatment in Turkey, many of these families are living in poverty and have not been able to assimilate into the local culture. One of the major impediments to their assimilation is the language barrier, as the vast majority of them speak Arabic, not Turkish.

Luckily some local civil society organizations have sprung up to assist these refugees. The Refugee Support Center is a Turkish non-profit organization based in the capital of Ankara. provides a variety of free services such as: nutritional assistance to mothers, day care for working parents, a health training program for women, legal assistance and language classes in Turkish and English.

They are also the only organization in Istanbul with a kid-friendly space where refugee children come for art classes, language classes and day care. 100 kids per week come to Upon arrival, we learned that The Refugee Support Center needs additional space to accommodate for the increasing numbers of Syrian refugees.

Based on their needs, Cause & Affect sprang to action, providing $1,000 worth of supplies to make the new space into a kid-friendly and educational environment. We purchased: tables, chairs, toys, easels, art supplies, floor mats and a slew of paper and art supplies. This photo is the finishes space, which is already providing a healthy space for Syrian refugee children to learn, play and dream of a better future.