Tucked away on a tiny side street, in an area not far from the tourist center of Istanbul, stands a small building called The Olive Tree. Like its namesake, it’s a modest but strong place, much like the people it supports. It represents a peaceful coexistence of cultures. Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, and families are struggling to either survive within Syria or to make new homes in neighboring countries. Families are being torn apart as they struggle to find acceptance in new lands and travel further afield for opportunities and better lives for their families.
In Turkey, you do not have to go far to hear the melodic tones of Syrian Arabic and to see the very real outcomes of this global crisis. Join us as we travel to the Capa district of Istanbul and visit Small Projects of Istanbul, a local NGO helping displaced families, particularly women and children, find their footing. With a global community of volunteers and supporters, SPI is working to provide supplemental education for children through weekly Turkish language classes and a homework support club, as well as art and other activities that develop community and a new sense of belonging.
Sit down for a simple meal of Syrian cuisine, which may include moujadara (burgal, green lentils, and fried onion), maklube (spiced rice, chicken, and nuts), or fetteh (rice, crispy bread, chicken, and tahini), proudly prepared by the ladies of the center. Talk informally with some of the brave individuals who have had to flee their homes, and with the eclectic group of volunteers from Turkey, Syria, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, and beyond, who give up their time to help. Afterwards, journey back to Sultanhamet by local tram. Your tour will finish back at the original meeting point. All net proceeds from this tour go to Small Projects Istanbul.