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Social Justice

Tarlabaşı Community Center

Tarlabaşı Community Center Fuels Hope amid Poverty

On 17 February 2011 Sabancı Foundation's "Turkey's Changemakers" program hosts Tarlabaşı Community Center, which reaches out one of the hardest to reach communities in İstanbul through needs-based services.

Although it is only within walking distance to the İstiklal Avenue, a "hip and happening" place known with its loud and proud nightlife, the Tarlabaşı district in İstanbul is at the center of deprivation, sorrow, and helplessness. Research by the Department of Public Social Services highlights the severity of the issues embedded within the context of the Tarlabaşı district. The inhabitants of the district include ethnic minorities, victims of internal forced migration, and illegal immigrants. Among Tarlabaşı community members, 56 percent is unemployed, 90 percent of the women are illiterate and 60 percent of the families live under minimum wage. "Their common ground is the culture they share; a culture of deprivation and poverty, under which they all live," says Suzan Oktan, the Tarlabaşı Community Center Coordinator about the Tarlabaşı community.

Founded by İstanbul Bilgi University in 2007, the Tarlabaşı Community Center tackles some of the issues of the Tarlabaşı community. People who confront difficulties in government organizations, in hospitals, and at the municipality come to the Tarlabaşı Community Center, which provides them with the necessary assistance. Particularly targeting women and children, the Center empowers children through dance, music, art, and drama workshops while reaching women through literacy courses, seminars on women's rights, and awareness-raising on the dangers of substance abuse. The Center also works with professional volunteers to provide weekly 2-hour legal assistance sessions in family, criminal and inheritance law open to the local community.

As of today, Tarlabasi Community Center touched upon the lives of almost a thousand people. "We wanted this shared culture of poverty and deprivation binds them... We never wanted to do something for them, but only with them." says Ms. Oktan.

For more information: www.tarlabasi.org

Season 2 - Epsiode 17

Date: 17.2.2011

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