How to help Syrian refugees in Turkey

Help those in need now!The recent photo of three year old Aylan Kurdi lying dead on the beach in Bodrum has provoked a storm of emotion and galvanised people around the world into providing help for Syrians who have been forced to flee their country. For those of us living in Turkey and the Greek Islands, we know he is not the first child or person to die trying to cross to Europe, and nor will he be the last. Reports of hazardous boats packed with too many people capsizing resulting in the death of those on board, have been in the news every week for almost the last year. Over the last few years more and more Syrians have been coming to Istanbul and other Turkish city centres, seeking refuge, so it’s more important than ever to know to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.

To date 7.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced and another 4 million have fled to neighbouring countries*. Nearly 2 million of those are in Turkey**. The sheer number of people is overwhelming, and I know many people feel helpless in the face of such need. It’s hard to know who to help first, where to send money and goods, and whether in fact it will make a difference. I believe even the smallest contribution counts. Living in Istanbul, with three Syrian refugee families on my street, I am able to give directly. I think it’s important that my money and other contributions go directly to those in need, so if you feel the same, here are some organisations you can contact to learn how to help Syrian refugees in Turkey.

ISTANBUL

Caritas in Istanbul

As well as helping refugees acquire documentation, Caritas accepts clean second hand clothes, bedding, shoes etc. in good condition. They can accept small kitchen items, such as plates, knives, forks, pots, pans etc. Unfortunately they have no storage facilities or van, so they cannot accept furniture. The volunteers come from a variety of countries and most of them speak English. They have set hours for accepting donations so ring before you take your contributions to them.

Small Projects Istanbul

Small Projects in Istanbul helps mainly Syrian adults and children. Through language lessons, theatre and other activities they hope to enable the refugees to create a better future with the skills to improve their lives. They accept cash donations through a secure link on their website.

Ad.Dar Istanbul

Ad.dar (“home” in Arabic) is an all-volunteer, non-political, non-religious, multi-cultural community initiative established for Syrian and Syrian-Palestinian refugees living in Istanbul. Ad Dar’s international volunteers (from Syria, Turkey, United States, Germany, Canada and more) organize activities and classes, as well as various forms of practical, social, and emotional assistance for children, families, and youths. They accept cash donations through a secure link on their website.

BODRUM

Bodrum Humanity (formerly Care Packages for Syrian Refugees)

Bodrum Humanity Facebook page

This community project based on the Bodrum peninsula in south west Turkey where many Syrians try to cross the sea to Greece, is supported by local Turkish people, ex-pats and tourists. They are non-political and have been helping Syrian refugees in Bodrum and in refugee camps across Turkey. Recently they decided to register as an official charity and have changed their mission statement to include a wider group of people in need. Before you contribute check with them as to what they need, as demand for particular items changes regularly. As of mid October 2015 their new website has been under construction but they can still be contacted through their FB page.

IZMIR

Halklarin Koprusu

Halkların Köprüsü (The Bridges of Peoples) is based in Izmir where many Syrians also try to cross the sea to Greece, and works to provide places for refugees to stay. You will require some Turkish to use their website, however their current list states they need nappies, sanitary napkins, formula, milk, water and hygiene items, among other things. You can contact them directly in Izmir (address listed under Iletişim tab) or send money to their account (details listed under Aidat-Bağış için tab). If you need help with translating information on their site please contact me. I’ll be happy to help you.

FINALLY

If you’re travelling to Turkey soon and want to bring over clean used clothes, toys, or educational materials to donate, ring your airline. Ask whether they’ll increase your luggage allowance for a charitable cause. Thomas Cook Airlines Northern Europe from Stockholm and Copenhagen are already doing this, even picking up the donations from the airport. Even 5kg worth of clothes can make a big difference.

 

Photo taken from Associated Press article http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/abbott-government-agrees-to-resettle-12000-syrian-refugees-in-australia-20150909-gjibqz.html

*figures taken from https://www.usaid.gov/crisis/syria, viewed on 13.9.15
** http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php, viewed on 13.9.15

About Goreme1990

I’m Lisa Morrow, the person behind www.insideoutinistanbul.com. I was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up a leafy middle class North Shore suburb. After finishing high school I went to Sydney University but failed to find my niche. After working as a public servant, cleaner, sales assistant, waitress, bar maid and car counter, I went overseas. Once there I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. My three months stay in the small central Anatolian village of Göreme changed my life. On my return to Australia I earned a BA Honours Degree in Sociology from Macquarie University. An academic career beckoned but the call to travel was louder. After several false starts I moved to Turkey and lived there for ten years. In 2017 I moved to Lisbon, Portugal, but continue to travel regularly to Istanbul. In addition to my blog I've written a travel narrative memoir called "Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul" and two collections of essays, "Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City" and "Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries". I have a regular segment on San Francisco Turkish radio and in early 2017 I released an audio walking tour called "Stepping back through Chalcedon: Kadikoy Walk", through VoiceMap. In addition I write for various international and Australian magazines and websites, as well as for this blog. A full list of my published articles, with links, can be found on the Writing on Turkey and Writing Beyond Turkey pages.
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12 Responses to How to help Syrian refugees in Turkey

  1. amani abdullah says:

    Amani
    I have a friend in Istanbul that needs help as fast as you can,his family sent for him some important papers his collage degree and some clothes but in the airport he couldn’t receive his stuff because he enter Turkey in illegal way please could you help him these things are important to him

  2. obada alnahhas says:

    sure if we know some people feel us . it’s perfect for us and thank you again i hope meet you in someday for know more about you and about your mind

  3. obada alnahhas says:

    thank you really. finally i find someone speaking about us and care for us

    • Goreme1990 says:

      It’s no trouble, really. There are lots of Turks and foreigners living in Turkey who are working directly to help Syrian refugees. I can only imagine how terrible it must be to have to flee your home and country. I hope what we are doing brings some solace to many.

  4. Goreme1990 says:

    Thanks Brian. It’s great to hear how many people are pitching in and lending a hand, whether via cash donation, giving clothes or volunteering. Together we CAN make a difference.

  5. Brian Mooy says:

    Thanks f or the personal update. We are pleased to know Caritas is helping since it is our regular charity. We will pass the word to some friends. Yvonne and brian Mooy

  6. paula says:

    Thank you for this post!! My question, with all the best intentions of people giving material goods, sadly the Turkish Lira is so weak right now that the best thing to do from out of country (in my case the United States) is to donate money. Small or large, it will go much further and can be useful directly to the cause. Sometimes the best of intentions (sending clothes, toys etc.) are an additional burden for people on the front line who have to really very pragmatically navigate how best to provide support.

    • Goreme1990 says:

      Thanks for your comments Paula. Those outside Turkey can help by sending money. My post was inspired by comments from people living in Turkey, and those who come here regularly on holiday (a lot of Brits), who wanted to know how to best help people directly. That is, they wanted to know where their donations, be it money or clothes, were going. I believe anything we can do has to be better than doing nothing.

  7. paula says:

    Thank you for this post!! My question, with all the best intentions of people giving material goods, sadly the Turkish Lira is so weak right now that the best thing to do from out of country (in my case the United States) is to donate money. Small or large, it will go much further and can be useful directly to the cause. Sometimes the best of intentions (sending clothes, toys etc.) are an additional burden for people on the front line who have to really very pragmatically navigate how best to provide support.

  8. Pingback: How you can REALLY help donate to refugees | Love.Life.Istanbul

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