People in Qnushyo are friendly, helpful and give each other moral support every day. Children could play, enjoy the activities organized for them. Children and the laughter of them drive me to contribute to Qnushyo. Living in the big city we sometimes forget to engage with our neighours, community. Volunteering in Qnushyo has made me to remember what being community means, slowing down and listening to people's needs. Every volunteer in Qnusyo shares the responsibility and volunteer for the things he does best. There is general will and things are sorted out without a hierarchy. I volunteer at Qnushyo by organizing activities for children, organizing a monthly activity called “share day” which donations like new or second hand clothes and/or non-perishable food are distributed to people who need them in the vicinity. It has been a great opportunity for me cooperating with people who have different educational and cultural backgrounds. I've experienced people are welcomed in Qnushyo and feel at home. The energy of kids, volunteers' talent in creating value, their diversity and passion for helping makes Qnushyo unique. If we could support the community by creating a safe environment in which they don't think of stressful times of the past and they experience the concerns of transition period here less, that will be the achievement of all volunteers.
Although my time at the Qnushyo was limited, the memories, lessons and friendships I have gained will last a lifetime. Being welcomed into the Qnushyo allowed me to not only help where I could but also learn what it means to be a community. Being especially close to the children of the Qnushyo, the strength and laughter that I saw is something that is drives everyone. I was lucky enough to be in a position to help develop the Qnushyo by fundraising with other volunteers for extra funding so we could move into a larger space. Thankfully the funding was a success and know that the Qnushyo will continue to do its great work in providing for those fleeing Syria! The single greatest thing that is great about the Qnushyo is that even when you leave, you are always a part of the Qnushyo!
From the first time I became involved with the Knushyo, I felt I was with an unusual group of problem-solvers. Something about this organization attracts a high caliber of people with very positive energy. Having lived for a year in Syria just prior to the current war, I had worried often about the people affected by it. Of course I still do. Yet when I first was acquainted with the Knushyo, I attended a graduation recital and party following an enormously successful summer school program. The joy people expressed in the dancing, singing, and laughing at the party gave me a new kind of hope. Spending these past few months living through decisions about how to work through and around obstacles to create a better and better gathering place, educational opportunities, and sense of family has already been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
Although I came from difficult circumstances, the war in Syria, I loved to offer my assistance to the children who came from Syria and from the same circumstances as me. The Kenishio (Knushyo or Qnushyo, webmaster's remark.) is a place that allows continuity to our children in order for them to have a better life. Since I had earlier experience of teaching kids in Syria, I felt that I could help them to grow their talents and to teach them the Syriac Language and the Syriac hymns in order for them to not forget their native language. And so, I wish that those who have the skills and abilities in interacting with children, help this centre and the children here.
Remembering my time at the Knushyo, many things come to my mind: the evenings practicing English together, the German classes in which I had to learn many new things about my own language, the discussions about how to finance and organize, the children playing with the neighbor’s dog Linda – being both excited and a bit frightened. But what I remember best has never happened to me before or after. Maybe I was more prone for it after living in the largely anonymous and overwhelming city of Istanbul for one year being mostly one thing for the millions by which I was surrounded: a stranger. Suddenly, something was different at the Knushyo. Something about the great hospitality of all people involved with the project. The feeling of being a stranger was only present at the first meeting, afterwards you are part, involved, friend. This momentous capacity of the Knushyo to build a community through open welcoming and trust- despite the harsh times, which I do not want to romanticize- can best be expressed with this photograph of a party full of laughter, dancing and immediate presence. I am grateful for this experience and owe thanks to everyone involved in this Great Spirit!
My experience at the Qnushyo was extremely positive. The school brings together parents and young adults from the community to create an environment that caters to the special needs of Syrian students today. It is a wonderful opportunity for volunteers seeking experience in transitional education and collaborative learning as well as refugee education.
Rana El Rayess
Coming from a country that witnessed war and displacement, and being a member of a family that has a long history in charity work, I've always wanted to help those in need and make a difference in their lives. My first experience was during the 2006 war in Lebanon, with the people who were forced out of their homes due to shelling and bombing of neighborhoods and houses. Later I tried to help my mother at her charity organization. Since I moved to Turkey, and during the Syrian war and the forced migration that lead to heavy influx of refugees, I started looking for charity organizations that are helping Syrians in Istanbul, and I found Qnushyo and became a volunteer in October 2016. Being able to speak English, Arabic and Turkish, it was easy for me to communicate with the students/volunteers and the refugees. I'm currently teaching computer skills to children aged 9-14, and my hope is to help them as much as possible until they return back to their normal lives.
Hello! My name is Merve. I am a student at Boğaziçi University. I have been volunteering at Qnushyo for almost 6 months. It is a chance for me to volunteer at Qnushyo because Qnushyo has many volunteers from different countries. These people are aware that they have the power inside to change the world or make an impact on other people’s lives. I am very grateful to be part of them. Every time one comes to Qnushyo, s/he definitely learns something new about different cultures, different lifestyles, or different languages. Qnushyo is a place where one can learn by teaching. Come to join us and educate yourself!
Qnushyo is like a Hobbit hole for me; it is filled with warm-hearted children and adults who enjoy laughing, dancing and enjoying each other’s company. Yet, deep down they all struggle with the fears of the past and worries of the future. I have been volunteering at Qnushyo since September 2015 as a teacher and volunteer coordinator to let them know they are not alone in this endeavor. Since then, I have met amazingly brave people who fled “the mouth of a shark” as well as philanthropic volunteers from all parts of the world, which encouraged me to learn, to understand, to love and to act more. If you want to be a part of change, join us! Together, we can make a difference.