What’s Servas? Servas, founded in 1949, is a peace and friendship organisation and has more than 30.000 members around the World. The members host Servas people in their homes and learn about cultures and set up new friendships. They face the prejudies they might have and get first hand information from the people coming from different countries. The motivation of Bob Luitweiler when he founded this organisation after the 2. World is hidden in this belief. “If people stay in the homes of other people they will definately raise good intentions and feelings for each other. Then, in the long term countries will never want to fight with other countries”. It is obvious that Bob was not able to stop wars across the world with Servas organisation. However, millons of people have become friends on earth thanks to his peaceful Servas idea. Members of Servas throughout the world have had unimaginable shelters where they can share life with local people.
Servas Turkey organises Live with Us Share with Us Children Programme in Ekinci (3aydiy) Antakya,
The programme we ran this year the 5th time developed peace, friendship, cultural awareness and attracted the attention of people upon art, music and environmental issues. Well, how do we implement this progamme then? This article will tell you in details.
My cousin, Selda, who missed her village and came here from Belgium, was suprised to see children running among trees in the gardens and asked what they were doing. Having a broad smile on my face, I said that they were collecting as many leaves as they could. Then they named the leaves in Arabic and Turkish and presented them as posters. She fell in love with the idea and joined the kids remembering her own childhood. At the end, the children picked up more than 40 different leaves including pomgranade, fig, tin müze, olive and blueberry. After a short time Selda became a teacher and helped kids and adults learn how to play Tiroz.
We ran the Servas Live with Us Share with Programme activities 5th time during the cool hours of the day
We started the 10-days-programme with an excited mood despite the on going violance in Syria, the rage, unhappiness and hopeless feelings emerged after the the two killings in Antakya (one of them from the village) during the Gezi Protests. We had to create a positive environment to clear up the war and violance athmosphere. Children urgently needed to hear about peace, learn creative ideas and meet people from different cultures and experience the World citizenship. So, we could not give up. It was urgent to provoke children’s curiosity with unusual information, truths, games and beauties of the World. Servas Children Programme have started with
The volunteers stayed with local families experienced the family life, songs, cuisine, behaviours and beliefs. They also had the chance to tell the same things about themselves. More importantly, they became aware
We made a cinema place with log seats near the grape, promagranade and fig trees and watched movies related to environment, peace, children rights, natural beauties and funny cartoons. Their reflections about what they watched just amazed us as adults. We were thrilled with the limitless world and curiosity of the kids.
Volunteers taught children to write their names in these languages (Nasim in Persian, Christina in Russian, Hassan in Arabic) at the language workshops every day. And kids displayed their works on the walls near the others. By the way, it was a precious experience to listen about Persian culture, Omer Hayyam’s poems and folk songs from Nasim and her brother Mohammed. Also, the answers about the culture and politic situation of the country they gave to local people must have destroyed lots of prejudies.
A group of kids I worked with to teach photography liked this job so much that they took my camera every day and made lots of photos. The topics they focused on were the workers, the pollution, the olds and the new born babies of the village. They also visited old people in their homes to listen their old lives. Kids were very good at seeing the differences with today. They used their Arabic when they interviewed the olds because most of the old people could not speak Turkish. Children also recorded every moments. This experience helped them understand their village better and raised their awareness. We came together with the photography group every day and talked about their works. Then, we made albums and shared them with the local people and the world on our facebook page.
Nur, who came to Antakya from Istanbul after 40 years to volunteer did the challenging wall painting activity called Servas Peace Village with the kids showing no tiredness and using her amazing teacher
Erkan and Esra who are involved in similar programmes in Belgium came to the village to pay a visit but when they heard about our programme they wanted to join us. They were so enthusiastic to entertain kids with crazy games. Also, they learnt our local games by playing with everyone. We had the chance to seek more ways of cooperation and possible joint projects.
Ferdus, who stole the kids from us early in the mornings and got lost in the garden to practise poetry with the themes of peace, love and friendship.
Selda (Laslus) who came from Samandağ (Sveydiye) practised drama with war and peace themes. At the end, kids created their own scenarios ve acted them on the stage for us. We were amazed with their talent which was a great source of motivation for us to do much more for the kids as volunteers.
The children were creating the amblem of peace with their bodies in a lovely spot of the garden
The children climbed up the olive trees and read books with great pleasure. They sometimes played
And finally, it was the show time. First, we cleaned up the area and carried the chairs from the holy tomb (ziyaret) activity hall. The kids wrote welcome and peace in many languages to meet the families. They also put the lights on which they made from used plastic bottles. The families took their seats with big excitements and the show started. More than one hundred people watched the photos and videos of activities we did during the 10 day programme. They also watched the videos of volunteers who came for the programme the previous years. The kids and local people were very happy to see the volunteers again and felt that they were not forgotton. Scetches in Arabic, pandomime, singing with sign language, poetry and music shows had a very positive effect on the families. They were all very proud of their children. Finally, we presented the appriciation certificates to the host families, volunteers and the other supporters.
The following day, we walked to Cuma Teacher’s country house with the kids and their families fort he
At noon, it was time to go back home. Kids tried to remember the names of the plants on the way. We also stopped by a mud brick house and talked about the life and culture in the old times. These were the lives of kids’ parents. We also visited the old water mill which was covered with trees near the river. Picking up figs from trees was the last activity of the programme.
It was the end of the story this year again. Saying goodbye was not easy for the volunteers, kids and families as usual. Almost everybody shed tears and didn’t seem to be ready to seperate. Our regular volunteer Christina (4th time this year) was comforting herself saying; 364 days left for the next meeting. Yes, kids, families and Christina count the days every year. Now, the new volunteers have joined them and we are a bigger team now. The meeting every year is our most exicting event of our life. The creation process of new culture in the village is going forward one step each year. We have added new values and tastes this year. Our village has already made a great progress to become a World Peace Village.
Servas Türkey Peace Secretary-Programme Coordinator
Ekinci (3aydiy) Antakya-Turkey