We stayed in Harran for 10 days on the occasion of the opening of the Ecological Women’s Village. In this way, we had the opportunity to see many places. The most beautiful thing was that we could establish a pure communication with the children of the region.

Children are the hope of our future. I believe they have the power to change our world because they have pure hearts and open minds. They’re innocent and free of the malice.

If they all manage to become a tree without spoiling, the whole world can become as green as it was on the first day. It’s our responsibility to protect the seedlings, water them and make them grow, but we can’t reach them all. However, not all children are fortunate enough to have the same opportunities. The children of Urfa are also among the unfortunate in many parts of the world.

All eyes on us. Some with bashfulness, some with admiration…“Stay here with us tonight,” say the children from the village of Aydüştü. Then, we say that we have to go, but they can visit us whenever they want.

“They won’t send us to the big city,” they say with a slight smile.

Lastly, we advise them —you know, we’re the big sister— “Work hard, go to college. Then, you’ll have great experiences. You can get back on your feet.”

Then, when they say, “They won’t let’s study,” sadness cuts me like a knife.

Urfa'nın çocukları
The children of Urfa.

If there is no school in one village, the father may not want to send his daughter to school in another village. See? How important it’s to build schools in the villages.

So, fathers can think of many reasons not to send their daughters to school. The governor of Harran district, Selami Yazıcı, even mentions that some villages don’t want schools to be built. They have the objection, “There will be open-headed teachers who will spoil the morals of the village.” He also added that the opponents may have planted a garden on the land where the school will be built, and since they can’t say that openly, they may come up with something like that.


Harran has 101 villages and only 38 schools have been built. Even this effort has a positive impact on the education system in these villages. While there used to be 56 students studying in a class at the same time, this number has now dropped to 28. As a result, the number of teachers working here increased from 800 to 1,200. The best result? It’s worth noting that these improvements have resulted in more girls attending the school.

Numerous college graduates in Turkey who are currently jobless. Meeting the needs of the education system is an interconnected solution.

Refugee children

We stood at the entrance to a sprawling refugee camp where rows of containers house hundreds of people. With our clothes on, it was obvious we didn’t belong. As we slowly made our way into the camp, I hesitated at first to use my camera. The weight of my shame pressed heavily on me.

The road was lined with high wire fences. Behind the wire fence, a group of people struggled daily to survive, while on the other side, a group of people walked casually with cameras in hand. The contrast between the two groups was striking and disturbing.

After all, a child saw the camera in my hand and called out to me, “Photo, photo!” I thought I should take a picture. When the other children saw this, they also began to pose. They pointed at themselves as if to say, “Me, me!” That’s when I realized they were having great fun and enjoying being photographed.


Urfa'nın çocukları
Sidra on the left.

Sidra grasped my hand tightly and spoke to me animatedly in a mixture of Arabic and Turkish. Surprisingly, I found myself in the midst of a group of children of varying ages, all eager to connect with me by holding my hand. The joy and innocence in their eyes contrasted with the reality of their living conditions.

Those who held my hand bragged to their other friends as if they had accomplished a great task. After then, we began to walk around the camp with our hands and arms clasped. Every child who sees us comes up to us, shakes my hand and says, “Welcome! How are you? What’s your name?” he asked.

The Syrian refugee camp known as Harran Container City is a sobering reminder of a parallel reality where an estimated 4,000 children call home.

To be candid, despite the sorrow we feel, it’s difficult for us to fully comprehend the extent of the suffering that the individuals in this camp are facing on a daily basis. Tomorrow, I return to my own life. Yet, I’m aware that the realization from this experience has touched me deeply.

Tomorrow will be different… Tomorrow should be different…

Click here to read in French of “The children of Urfa”.
Yeşim Özbirinci, 16 Mart 2015, Gaia Dergi.

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