11. 10. 2014 – Syrian refugees @ Samatya, İstanbul

Samatia

enjoys being jumped on: bouncy castle

Yo, as stated previously, this time it was not so easy to organise a place. But when you talk about your stupid castle all day, destiny will connect you with the right people. And the right people can organise everything: children who really need some distraction, a nice place at the seaside, and even çay when everybody is thirsty from jumping. This time the right people are called Önver and Jakub (thanks so much to you two!)

a typical way to organize an event

a typical way to organize an event

Önver from the Swedish cultural Institute and Jakub take care of Syrian refugees from the Assyrian community. They organise their accomodation, but also focus on activities to interrupt the frustrating waiting. Asylum applications can take some years (!), in the meantime they are not allowed to work, the children don’t go to school etc. The excitment for the castle was accordingly high, we only had to organise a place.

The Bishop of Istanbul in Tarlabaşı

First of all, the Bishop of Istanbul had to approve (as the refugee project runs under the roof of the Assyrian church). Then, we fixed the date on saturday, when the children would all be gathered. The event should take place in the courtyard of the Assyrian church in Samatia, right next to the refugees’ flats.

But when I finally took a look at the place, I could see that the castle could never fit in there (reminded me of the fail in Sarajevo). What a disappointment! Jakub and me were walking around afterwards searching for an alternative, but the only place we found was a parking lot owned by the municipality of Fatih. A quick phone call showed that the decision about the castle could only be made on monday (bureaucrazy works everywhere the same…). Well, the dream was shattered and I gave up all hopes to set up the castle in Istanbul…

… until Önver called me some hours later: Jakub had talked to the Armenian church next to the parking lot, and the place actually belonged to them! The municipality of Fatih had just decided at one point, the church’s garden would make a nice parking lot and had paved it. No matter what the real ownership conditions were like, we decided to put the castle there on the next day. Persistency had paid!

When we arrived on the next day at 10am, we were already welcomed by Önver, Jakub and several people from the Swedish institute, who didn’t want to miss the show. Of course, we were also greeted by a total power blackout (was it you, Fatih municipality?!), which did not last so long fortunately. Nevertheless, the church’s housekeeper insisted to finish his breakfast before he could give us the cable. But these were only small distractions. The Syrians arrived and the guys helped me unload and set it up. One of the guys actually had worked with bouncy castles in Aleppo, it was a real pleasure to work with a professional again :)

The children’s eyes lightened up, and only privacy concerns keep me from posting their smiling excited faces here. Well, what to say, it was a blast. Önver and Jakub organised a picknick for everybody.

Hopefully we will have another event with this community, next time maybe in Kadıköy (which would be the first event in Asia!). Thanks guys for the great day! (and I slept 15 hours afterwards)

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