05 December 2005
by Basak Yalvac
Volunteers throughout Turkey shared their silent commitment to the community in a childrens’ photo show, in Istanbul, 5 December. Exhibits from this, the first volunteers’ show were the work of 55 volunteers, hand-picked from over 400 entry snapshots of children in need, attending non-formal activities with the support of young Turkish volunteers in 27 locations across Turkey.
“These are not just children’s photos but shots of the very special, plucky youngsters mentored by our young volunteers at the activity centres run by our foundation”, explained Başak Yalvaç, who works for the Educational Volunteers Foundation (TEGV), and trains volunteers to deliver mentored educational activities to 7-16 year olds at 101 locations country-wide.
TEGV is one of the foremost educational volunteer foundations in Turkey, serving a burgeoning population of young people in urban migrant communities from eastern Europe to remote eastern locations bordering Iraq and Syria.
“We wanted to voice our feelings about what we were doing as volunteers and contribute actively to UN International Volunteer Daythis year” said Emin Önel, photographer, artist, teacher, long-time volunteer at TEGV and one of the nine volunteer organizers behind the exhibit.
The exhibit opened at CAPITOL, Istanbul’s popular global-award candidate mall (daily circulation of 30,000). TEGV hosted the exhibit to raise awareness of the importance of volunteerism, and to thank all those volunteers contributing to the work of the foundation, which has supported volunteers and youth since its founding 10 years ago, and regularly acknowledges its debt to these inspiring young people. TEGV invited volunteers from all round Turkey to join celebrations on this day.
These little snapshots silently testify to the joys and trials of Turkey’s young volunteers working to contribute, rising above the challenges faced by Turkey’s youth. An Istanbul volunteer, Tuba Özer took the little black and white shot of two boys selected as the show’s symbol, in Van, in Eastern Turkey. “We went there this summer on a volunteer exchange programme. The children are from a refugee family who had fled regional unrest. We taught them to play and to speak Turkish”.
Tuba, Emin and others in the organizing team, as well as several of the volunteers participating in this exhibit are also active participants of the foundation’s ‘Dreams Workshop Programme’, a lifeskills through art initiative for young volunteers and children. The exhibit – 0ver 97 shots of extraordinary candor and a testament to youth mentorship and children’s trust, goes on tour after 8th December and will show in communities throughout Turkey at 83 TEGV centres in 2006.
"Volunteerism entails initiative, courage, dedication and social responsibility. Volunteers play a vital role in the quest for a better Turkey,” said Sermin Kagan, TEGV’s Volunteer Coordinator
The Educational Volunteers Foundation aims to support basic education nationwide by enhancing the competencies, attitudes and values of children and youth and to strengthen the transferable skills of volunteers delivering educational activities through mentorship. Since its founding in 1995, TEGV has reached more than 650.000 children and young people through non-formal activities carried out with the active support of over 15,000 volunteers at over 86 locations (11 Education Parks, 58 centres, 17 mobile learning units and Community centres) throughout Turkey.