18 Ağustos 2013 Pazar

Servas Peace Village of Antakya-Turkey

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,
Turkey every July. A number of local and international Servas volunteers meet in this friendly village for  this programme every summer. They come together with kids (aged 7-14) in the garden, house yards and streets to teach whatever they know. The topics they teach are various but peace, languages, music, dances, nature, recycling, human rights, drama, toy making, drawing, etc. are the main interests. The volunteers staying with local family find the oppurtunity to experince the culture, family life, cuisine and habits whereas they can also introduce their own culture. This experience gives a big change to children, families and eventually all villagers.
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.
The garden turned to be a big game area and we were the ambitious players.  Another volunteer, Davut, taught how to make a musical instrument out of a reed. He helped all kids one by one to try this insturment patiently. A big children  orchestra was created spontanously in a short time. I taught how to make a water pistol using bigger reeds. Kids picked up reeds from the gardens and easily learnt how to turn a reed into a toy using their small hands and bright eyes. Kids created more precious natural toys than the plastic ones. Besides they had great fun during the process. On the other hand, I had a big problem now. All children aimed their water pistols towards me and firde them. I got soaked like all of them even if
I tried to fight against them. The land lady, Huriye Teyze, was hit by the kids when she suddenly got out of the house. She tried to escape while she was cursing everyone’s dad but at the same time she was hiding her smile. It was clear that she liked playing games despite her age; 65. I stared at her with admiration as she hosts a big floak of children every summer in her garden mostly covered with vegetables and fruit. Then I invited her to play with us. Her smile turned to be a big laughter and added in Arabic; Ah, ah ! Fili şiğil ktir (oh, I have many things to do.) She grabed her basket and disappeared in the garden. The children have found these old games much more fun than the ones they usually play on computer. They have all experienced that sweating, falling down, screaming and disturbing neighbours while playing on the streets is more fun than anything.

We ran the Servas Live with Us Share with Programme activities 5th time during the cool hours of the day

in the morning and evening with the kids gliding out of their homes and meeting at Bet El Feneriy Garden.
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
these ‘romantic’ feelings and have grown up considerably. The children have developed themselves and their dreams within this programme. They have learnt and experienced so many thing they would never have had the chance to learn during their long school life with the help of peaceful and friendly volunteers. They have realised the alternative lifestyles and learnt how to make dreams beyond borders. One of the participant children called Nisan, aged 13, asked me a question which made the issue clearer; Mehmet Abi, can I also go abroad with Servas when I learn the language and grow up? Can I become a volunteer to help other kids? Nisan got interested in English with the help of Marilyn, Canadian Servas volunteer who joined the programme the first year. After 5 years she learnt a good english and helped us as a translator at the programme this year. She was not the only one. Selen, a university student, also did amazing job in terms of guiding and helping the volunteers.
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
of the truth that religions, languages, races and statues can not be reasons for discrimination but reasons for  enriching our lives. They became aware of themselves while they were talking about  themselves. Carla, coming from Portugal, was so interested in cultures that she regretted not knowing a better Turkish. However, she was still hopeful considering that this programme takes place every year. She promised to come again next year with better communication skills in Turkish. And the good news was that she might bring her friends to join us as volunteers the following years. She asked; are you ready for a big Portugeese community in the village? My answer was short; the doors are always open.    
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
patience. Also, when she taught kids Sign Language and how to sing the song called Friendship in this language they could empathy with the handicapped people. Nur was so impressed with the kids saying; “I have never seen such curious and eager kids for learning more. Also, working with them is both easy and instructive. But I don’t mean their untidiness”.
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
when we received the news of dead people in Syria and when Ali İsmail Korkmaz’s (killed during Gezi Protests in a street of Eskişehir) body was brought to the village. The war and violance increasing around children made them understand the value of peace much better.  The kids full of love took their job very seriously and were very prouded  while making the symbol of peace. The saddest thing was that we were dreaming of visiting the Syrian kids in their villages and doing joint activities with them at the very beginning of this programme 5 years ago. Actually, we haven’t given up this idea yet but postponed it for a while.  
The children climbed up the olive trees and read books with great pleasure. They sometimes played
games of Iran, Portugal and Russia with the volunteers. Children always liked the activity of sitting in a circle and dream of something. Then, they enjoyed travelling to different countries in their dreams (not suprisingly the ones where the volunteers come from). Kids also created their own houses and cities and draw them on papers. On the other side of the garden another local volunteer, Gül, played scrable and sang English songs with kids. When they were too hot they were refreshed with cold beverages that the neighbours offered. At the end of each day, they did the cleaning up and went home tired  but relieved. Every day showing no boredom.
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
Final Breakfast. We made a big table with everybody’s food. Everyone shared the food and good feelings with each other. At the end, we found ourselves in the pool with our clothes on. We had the water fight again, sang lots of songs and danced in the pool.
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.

Mehmet ATEŞ
Servas Türkey Peace Secretary-Programme Coordinator
Ekinci (3aydiy) Antakya-Turkey

1 yorum:

  1. çok güzel keşke bu sene gelseydim ama eğer seneye de olursa geleceğim kesin :)