REFUGEES IN TURKEY
According to UNHCR, Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population, 3.5 million refugees. This means they make up at least 4% of Turkey’s population (85 million). The majority of registered refugees are from Syria (3.2 million), with hundreds of thousands of others coming from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. 90% of refugees reside in urban areas like Ankara, not in refugee camps. 70% of the refugees in Turkey are women and children. These numbers continue to increase due to civil war and terrorism. In the midst of all of this, the local church is responding to meet the needs of these refugees.
WHO WE ARE
ARM is a ministry of Kurtulus Church, one of Turkey’s largest Protestant, evangelical churches, and a member of the Alliance of Protestant Churches of Turkey. Other Ankara churches that share our heart and vision for refugees are assisting in this project, as well as selected international charities. We believe that as the church we are called to serve and love those in the communities around us. Our ministry is fueled by Jesus’ command to “Love Your Neighbor” – no matter where they come from.
WHAT WE DO
We aim to help refugees living in Ankara by meeting both short-term and long-term needs. Kurtuluş Church works alongside three other Ankara churches to distribute food boxes to 500 refugee families each week. Each food box provides approximately a week’s worth of food staples for three persons. While refugee families are often larger than three, this food serves as a vital supplement to a sometimes meager diet. We began by serving 5 families and now we have grown to nearly 6,000 registered families in our database.
When refugees come to our center for a food box, they may also choose to receive donated clothing, blankets, hygiene kits, children’s coats and more. They also have access to our first aid room, where we offer simple health services and basic medications. Parents who arrive with children may leave them in our supervised playroom while they are served. In addition, we have Bibles, New Testaments, and other resources for interested persons, including evangelism and discipleship courses and Christian media resources in Arabic.
Helping refugees think about long-term solutions is an increasingly important part of our work. We are now providing English language courses throughout the week for refugees, and since so many of our refugees will be in Turkey for the foreseeable future, we have also launched a Turkish language course. In addition to these courses, we’ve also begun friendship clubs and an art group, where women can gather together to process their experiences through making art. Local volunteers have provided art opportunities for children during the food distribution as well. By serving refugee families and visiting them in their homes, we have been able to get to know them better and learn how we can better help them rebuild their lives.
Our biggest long-term project is the Jaraki Sewing Project, where we teach refugee women to make purses, tablet cases, messenger bags, etc. from old Turkish rugs. The project has been growing quickly and new women are signing up to join. We compensate the women for the products they make, and we have begun to sell them around the world. This project has since grown into a full-scale business, which you can read more about on the Sewing Project page. We have also partnered with Coffee Haus Coffee Roasters to open a new cafe in the neighborhood of our refugee building. The cafe employs refugees and trains them in marketable business skills. We also feature products of the Sewing Project in the cafe, and all of the profits earned from product sales go back into the refugee ministry.
We have big plans to strengthen all these aspects of the ministry in 2018, and we plan to increase both vocational training opportunities and add social clubs, such as football and drama. We believe it is important to invest time and energy in getting to know each refugee personally and are committed to being an example of the local church by loving our neighbors.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You may use the link below to make a gift to Alcansa Relief, the US tax-exempt charity established to process gifts for this project. The amount of your gift will be remitted to Kurtulus Church in Ankara for the refugee ministry minus a 5% fee to cover administrative costs. Your gift will enable Kurtulus and other Ankara area churches to provide vitally needed assistance to refugee families.
Please feel free to share this website with others whom you feel are interested or would want to help. You may wish to share this with your pastor, your church, or small group. If you are in a small group, for example, would members want to each sponsor one or more food boxes each month? You have our permission to share this project on your Facebook page and other social media.