In the words of Ayşegül Özdil: “When you build communication among children of different cultures, the day after you see the effect on their mothers.”

Date: Thursday, April 18, 2019

Children playing at the SADA Centre with their teacher Ayşegül Özdil. Photo Credit: ASAM

Ayşegül Özdil is a kindergarten teacher at the SADA Women Empowerment and Solidarity Centre. Supported by UN Women and funded by the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (the EU “Madad” Fund) and the Government of Japan, the SADA Women-only Centre supports the empowerment of refugee and host community women and their engagement in social activities as well as integration into the labour force. It provides women with opportunities to acquire skills and knowledge to take up new jobs, establish businesses and improve their economic situation and overall safety.

“This is the first time I have ever worked with refugee children in a kindergarten. Before joining the SADA Centre, I only had experience working with Turkish children. But being here with refugee children has had a big impact on my life.

Now, I don’t only teach Turkish children, but I also have Syrian, Afghani, Iraqi and Turkmen children whose mothers are the beneficiaries of the SADA Centre.

While teaching children Turkish and playing games with them, I also observe them very carefully. I follow their psychological and cognitive development to provide them with professional guidance when needed. Children who come to this kindergarten regularly have improved their cognitive skills a lot. They learn how to be friends. They learn the language and play an important role in building relations between mothers from the host and refugee communities.

When women come here, they leave their children to me knowing that they are in a safe place. The success of the SADA Centre in reaching over 5,000 beneficiaries in only two years, including refugee and host community women, is also thanks to the childcare services that we provide.

While teaching children, I also learned from them how to create an intercultural dialogue. We play their traditional games and they teach me their languages. This multicultural environment we have at the kindergarten supports communication between refugee and Turkish women. Mothers begin to interact with each other and talk about their children. Gradually, they start sharing their experiences of their children’s adaptation, nutrition and learning process. This creates friendship and dialogue as well as a better understanding of each other.”

 Strengthening the Resilience of Syrian Women and Girls and Host Communities in Turkey” Project is co-funded by the European Union and the Government of Japan and implemented by UN Women in partnership with ILO, SGDD-ASAM (Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants) and Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality in Turkey.