Supporting vulnerable children in Turkey as they adapt to the “new normal”
Supporting vulnerable children in Turkey to the “new normal”
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose heightened challenges all over the world, children are among the most affected by measures put in place to respond to the outbreak.
UNICEF, in collaboration with its national partners, the Ministry of National Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Kilis Municipality and Turkish Red Crescent, and with the generous financial contribution of the Government of Germany, is distributing Family Hygiene kits and Learn at Home Kits. This assistance helps the most vulnerable children and families in Turkey continue learning at home and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are three snapshots from the first phase of distribution of these materials in İstanbul, Kilis and Hatay.
“My friends always tell me that I should live in school because I love it and I never skipped a day.” Fatma, 11, told us when we asked her what school meant to her. “Now I can’t go, I try to study at home but it’s different. I miss my teachers, my classmates, I even miss wearing my uniform!” She continues with a smile on her face. Fatma and her younger brother Muhamet, 8, opened their new Learn at Home kit with great excitement, “Oh there are lots of stories to read!”. Fatma also helped her mother to open the hygiene kit. When taking out the soap bar and smelling it, she exclaimed “it smells so nice! I will use it all the time mom.”
The Learn at Home kit, developed together with the Ministry of National Education, contain books, stationery kits, games and other essential learning materials to support the most vulnerable refugee and Turkish children who are cut off from education due to the COVID19 pandemic and experience challenges accessing remote learning facilities. The family hygiene kits include pamphlets about COVID-19 prevention measures, cleaning products and personal hygiene items like soap, towels and sanitary products, to help children and their families keep the home environment clean and prevent infection.
“One of the most beautiful moments is when you knock on the door of a family in need, and you see the smile on their faces when they open the door and see the kits.” Zeynep, 24, who is a Kilis Municipality youth worker, tells us when asked about how she feels while distributing UNICEF’s Hygiene and Learn at Home kits. She leans forward, with the big smile on her face hidden under her surgical mask, just after ringing the bell of the Hayat family, “I am sure they will be happy to see us. Yes, these kits are important but more than that, they make them feel like there are people out there thinking of them and making efforts to support them and that is priceless.”
UNICEF and its partners are distributing more than 60,000 Family Hygiene Kits in 31 provinces and 90,000 Learn at Home Kits in 62 provinces.
Melek,12, Ali, 9, and Hassan, 6, are three siblings living in Hatay and trying to adjust to the confinement measures implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. “You know I always prefer to play football outside and spend time with my friends, but now we can’t go out anymore. So I spend most of my time sitting in the garden.” Ali was telling us about his new routine while emptying the content of the Learn at home kit he just received. For Melek the situation was a little different, “At the beginning I was happy when they said we will sit at home. I wanted to spend more time with my family but now I realized how much I miss going to school and seeing my friends. I really miss my life outside the house.” Ali and Hassan found the boardgames in the Learn at home kits, “Oh I am so happy you got me Tangram! You know we can make several animal shapes using this game!” Hassan told us as he already started playing with his older brother.