The Fatih Center in Istanbul, provides for a safe, loving space where our children can come after school to learn English, Arabic, Turkish, Drama and Music. It is a collaboration between GiveLight and Hanan Foundation, which started a few years ago and in total we are helping 120 Syrian orphans. Recently, our board member, Johann, and his family visited the center.
When asked to name a hero, some may describe either a fictional superhero like characters from the Avengers movies or an actual person in history who made a significant positive impact for the betterment of humanity. One of the definitions of ‘hero’ in Merriam-Webster is one who shows great courage. Our family had the distinct honor of being in the presence of many heroes. These heroes are the children and the healers (teachers) at Fatih Center. The children are heroes because words cannot describe the courage they had to muster to survive and escape their war-torn country over days, weeks, months and years. Their stories do not end there. Some are still dealing with PTSD. Yet even after all they went through, they gave us such a warm welcome – cracking jokes, giving hugs to our kids and they just kept on going and going and going (like the Energizer bunny). The healers are heroes because they provide the much-needed TLC (tender loving care) and help ensure the children adapt to life in Turkey. The healers conduct classes to teach Turkish and English, enhance what the children learn in school, Quran classes and be an extended family for the children. Sr Emel who is the Director of the center and Br Imad who is the GiveLight representative provided us with an overview of the center, including its mission and goals, the children’s background and gave us a tour of the center. The center is a collaboration between GiveLight and Hanan Foundation, which started a few years ago and in total we are helping 120 orphans.
Apart from conducting classes, the center provides a safe space for the children to socialize and just be kids. We visited the center in the middle of winter where it rained frequently and the weather was quite cold around 40 to 50 Fahrenheit. The center desperately needs increased support from its donors. This was evident when Sr. Emel showed us the playroom in the top most floor and we found a section of the room was leaking. Sr Emel also explained that she refrains from turning on the heater to stretch the limited funds they have. GiveLight’s recent donation of winter jackets for the kids came in very handy to provide much-needed warmth for the children. Sr Emel also shared with us that the center receives visitors who volunteer their time at the center to teach the children different subjects to help them along their journey of growing up. We were there for a very short while and wished we could have stayed longer and spend more time with the children. We profusely thanked our hosts for taking the time out of their busy schedule to show us around and promised that we would return and spend more time with the children, InshaAllah. The children have left an indelible mark in our hearts and we already miss them so much.