As I was going around the time of Eid, the team also came up with a beautiful idea which was to gift the children Eid packs which would include toys and clothes. We had also planned a big Eid party for the children. Many of the children were orphans and living in extremely difficult conditions so we knew that our efforts would be greatly appreciated. Alhamdulilah, we were able to raise the money through the generosity and support of so many which was a reminder for me that God always provides.
Normally I don’t mind shopping, especially for clothes but buying so many packs in such a small space of time, a week before Eid was tough! One thing I did notice was the discrimination and disrespect shown to Syrian people by some locals. It was sad to see this treatment, especially when buying items for disadvantaged children and was a stark reminder of the ongoing difficulties Syrian people face.
The school was a modest building with a few classrooms and a small play area. When Syrian children arrive in Turkey, it can take up to two years for them to access mainstream education. The school had been set up as a stepping-stone until the children could register in a local school. The school day had ended but it was nice to see the calm before the storm. The sister who ran the school told me about the children and some of their stories; most of them had seen first-hand the harsh reality of the Syrian conflict and were left with the trauma of it all. It was comforting to know that Hope for humanity had provided training to teachers earlier in the year; equipping them with the skills to help these children overcome some of the psychological difficulties they were experiencing. The courage and resilience of this woman was all inspiring and showed me the strength Syrian people have in themselves and their faith.
Over the next few days I was able to combine teaching and shopping for Eid packs.
As a teacher in England, I am used to teaching history in secondary school so going into a classroom with a range of ages and abilities was definitely a new experience. The sheer motivation and hunger for learning these children possessed was delightful. Seeing them grow in confidence and practice the words I was teaching them was a feeling I will keep with me forever. When they would see me after school, they would repeat the new sentences to me with such pride.
During my time in Istanbul, there were ongoing political changes which impacted the Syrian people to the extent that some were unsure if they would still be in the city by the end of the month. Not only had the families been through war but the ongoing unpredictability and complexity of their lives made it such a difficult experience for them. Despite all of this difficulty and struggle, I only saw faith and strength from all the people I met on this trip. I also noticed the honesty, integrity and a whole load of hard work that goes into supporting such vulnerable people. That definitely gave me hope for humanity ????