June 20 World Refugee Day was marked with a festive event under the aegis of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the leadership of Maya Vakfı. In addition to main sponsor Turkish Jockey Club (TJK), Jotun also supported the event. NGOs working in this field and nearly one thousand Syrian children and their families participated in the festival.

Ekinci: “Thank you Maya Vakfı”

TJK President Yasin Kadri Ekinci spoke at the opening of the event organised for the second time, “Refugee problem is unfortunately the most disgraceful humanitarian issue we are facing today. It is undoubtedly a devastating tragedy for people to be forced out of their homes and leave their land to seek a new life. We know that there are 65 million refugees worldwide. We wanted to mark June 20 World Refugee Day in a meaningful way in Turkey, which is one of the countries that receive the highest number of most refugees worldwide. It is important to raise awareness about the subject and especially to say that children should not be harmed psychologically and physically in this environment. On behalf of Turkish Jockey Club, I would like to extend my gratitude to Maya Vakfı, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and all the NGOs taking part for making this event possible.”

Özsüer: “One child’s hope is a hope for all”

In her “welcome” speech, Esra Özsüer, Founding President of Maya Vakfı pointed out the importance of keeping hopes alive in the hearts of refugee children. “Today we are not just celebrating the World Refugee Day. We are also here to remind these children that they are still kids, to show that they are not alone and to make all the refugees feel welcome here. We are here to show that we are “us”, to show that we stand with refugees. Because the hope of a child here is in fact a hope for all of us…”

Following the speech of Can Vodina, Assistant Legal Officer at United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who talked about the current status of the refugee problem across the world and the importance of dealing with the issue, the festival continued with stage performances of various NGOs and the children they work followed with a concert by the band Zeytin. During the event, the NGOs organised several workshops for children in the spaces allocated to them while the children that Maya Vakfı works with as part of the Trauma-Informed Schools project spent a fun day in a number of workshops on painting bags, creative arts and making postcards.

Along with Maya Vakfı, participants included: Human Resource Development Foundation (İKGV), Turkish Red Crescent (Sultanbeyli and Bağcılar Community Centers), Blue Crescent Foundation, ASAM, Positive Behaviour Development Association (ODGEDER), AAR Japan, Association for Solidarity with Refugee Women Initiative, Supporting Life, Blue Pen Social Welfare and Solidarity Association, Goethe Institute, UNIQ Gallery, Syrian artists, Art Everywhere Association and Yuva Association. Thanks to all the friends who joined us at the festival!