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A Community Center Volunteer Who Touches With His Heart

A Community Center Volunteer Who Touches With His Heart

Exhaustion of years and sorrow of the war, on one hand, the peace brought by the fact that he can be together with his family and hold on to life on the other hand... These were on Muhammed Cuma’s face. 

Teaching art voluntarily to other beneficiaries at Bağcılar Community Center of Turkish Red Cross financed by the European Union,  Muhammed, 55, came to Turkey five years ago because of the war in Syria which displaced millions of people. 

When I came, the Turkish-Syrian border was open. So, I didn’t have much trouble when crossing, but it was as much as difficult to leave there. It hurts to leave one’s own land... I had sent my family first, then I came after a while. We had lands, I waited for crops to ripen. I harvested them, then I came. My son was first to come to İstanbul and found a job. I was afraid for my children. You can’t know war without seeing it. Especially if you have children, you want a better life for them.”

“You couldn’t see my garden empty back in Syria. There were paintings of nature everywhere.”

Muhammed, whose profession is an electrical technician, says that he spend over 30 years of his 55-year life painting. He also adds that he has made use of painting both as a hobby and a way of earning money:

“I’ve been painting for over 30 years. Painting is an inseparable part of life for me. Of my soul, too. I’ve sometimes done it as a hobby; at other times, I was involved in small projects and made use of my art there. Painting has also helped me in my professional life as a technician.” 

“I wish you could have seen my home in Syria. You couldn’t see my garden empty. There were paintings of nature everywhere. I’ve made thousands of paintings including styles,” adds Muhammed.

He states that he was introduced to the Community Center by means of his son. “My son had a problem with his workplace. We consulted the Community Center, they took good care of us. They gave us necessary directions, then we became aware of the Turkish courses. We enrolled in it.”

He also says that it is hard to learn a new language at a certain age: “My children are much better at Turkish. I do my best but it is easier to learn a new language when younger. We’re trying to speak two languages but we’ve become older. And our perception has become weaker, therefore we’re having difficulty in learning Turkish.”

Muhammed can speak Russian, English and Kurdish to a certain extent and says that he has made friends with the locals and sharing and differences mean richness:

“I have Turkish friends and Iraqi friends. I sometimes go fishing, we converse there. We’re trying to understand each other in terms of language, we do even if we can’t. What is most important is that we can smile together.”

“Community centers are a very successful project because they include everyone.”

He says that they continue the sharing culture by teaching art to others: 

“I’ve been teaching art voluntarily at Bağcılar Community Center for a while. I teach both to children and adults. What matters is to be eager. 

“Community centers are a very successful project because they include everyone. You can see a Syrian, Iraqi and a local. They come to many courses here and participate in activities. They learn science and language and can perform arts.”

Muhammed Cuma is only one of the thousands of beneficiaries at 15 Community Centers of Turkish Red Crescent. 

Community Centers are providing displaced people and locals with services in several fields such as protection, social adaptation, means of living improvement, healthcare and psychosocial support and making efforts for a resilient society.