Qnushyo is made up of a a group of local and international volunteers who have come together to make a difference in the lives of refugees in Istanbul. We are a gathering place created to provide a place of community and learning for refugees arriving in Istanbul from surrounding countries, predominately from Syria.
Our aim is to assist refugees through workshops, activities and seminars that focus on skills development, local knowledge and integration, and the promotion of well-being.
We conduct activities under three main categories:
1. Education We offer guidance to help families registering their children in school. In 2017, forty-seven refugee children were registered in Turkish kindergarten, primary and secondary school. We also provide personal development opportunities for refugee children through art, music, sport and cultural activities.
2. Community Qnushyo strives to establish an energizing gathering place for people from different backgrounds and beliefs. At our Yedikule "home", refugees from diverse backgrounds can meet and network with local Turkish people and volunteers from around the world. It's a place where people support each other and find access to different resources. We also collaborate with different NGOs in order to provide guidance to refugees on skills development, employment opportunities and well-being.
3. Women's Empowerment Qnushyo supports women to realize their full potential. We organize skills development activities and assist with domestic problems as women re-establish their lives in Istanbul.
Over 5.4 million people have fled Syria since 2011, seeking safety in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and beyond. Turkey is home to more than 3.5 million registered Syrian refugees. Although many are living in government-managed refugee camps, the vast majority are living in urban areas with little or no support.
Many Syrian refugees, especially those of Assyrian background, ended up in Istanbul's Yedikule neighborhood. During the first years of the Syrian refugee crisis, the Yedikule community had no outreach programs or activities, and the children didn't attend any school or have any structured activities. In addition there were no mental health resources for a community that suffered from the effects of war and migration, who exhibited symptoms of trauma, depressive behavior and a sense of hopelessness.
Qnushyo's founders Yakup Atuğ and Önver Çetrez saw the need in Yedikule and began to organize the community - creating programs, educational opportunities and various means of support - giving this vulnerable but dynamic community a second chance at life.
The playground in Yedikule is at the centre of Qnushyo’s story. Since the refugee children coming into the neighborhood would play there and forget the stressful times of their past, Qnushyo decided to establish its physical location very close to children's playground.
Community: We collaborate with other agencies and partners in our community.
Integrity : We conduct business in a way that is honest, transparent and ethical.
Empowerment: We empower volunteers and the community to make the highest impact.