Mavi Kalem, Turkey
Mavi Kalem was established in 2000 in response to the terrible earthquakes that hit Istanbul that year. There was an immediate need for a social welfare program in the poorer areas of Fener and Balat, where the population is mostly rural immigrants from eastern Turkey. The immigrants are isolated from their natural communities, have low levels of education, and have limited incomes from menial employment. For the children, life is hard and school is given a low priority.
Mavi Kalem has put together projects to directly assist these children and help them see the benefits of education and school. Early on, they included: a library for children of the area to use, dancing and theatre classes, street theatre performances, photography lessons, writing classes and publishing a local newspaper. .
Today, Mavi Kalem holds weekly classes in all areas of formal education such as maths, science, geography, history and literature, facilitated by trained teachers. In Turkey it's an accepted practice that children attend a "dershane" or tutor for extra lessons after school. These private lessons help children get the additional learning assistance that they would otherwise miss in crowded state schools. Because most children in Fener and Balat would never be able to afford such a luxury, this wonderful program provides all the children of the area with the educational opportunities that well off families have. They also provide a free professional consultancy on women's health and women's rights in Turkey.
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