Ibrahim speaks about his project, Project Virtuous Triangle, one of three winners of the 2016 EU social innovation competition.
Many refugees in Turkey struggle to keep up in Turkish schools, can’t afford a private school, or stay out in the street- I planned to do something about it.
I was inspired to start Project Virtuous Triangle by the co-founder of the project. In Turkey, I see the refugee crisis first hand every day. Young Syrian children are out on the streets, not in schools, and we see segregation from Turkish students at a very early age.
I decided to do something about it. We started Project Virtuous Triangle following a series of small scale projects about refugees and children in Turkey. Our project matches primary school children from Syria with young Turkish students, alongside a university age ‘coach student’.
It’s largely an educational programme, so the Turkish student can get tutoring from the coach student, and the Syrian student can learn Turkish from the young person and the coach. Most importantly, thanks to this triangular relationship, Syrian and local kids will develop good friendships, and this is the main goal of our project along with language improvement. We get permission from all parents, and the project means the refugee children are more likely to be able to learn the language, attend school, and eventually get a job or open up other future opportunities.
We want to make sure that the project benefits everyone, so the coach student gains access to internships and other opportunities from Turkish partnering organisations and international voluntary opportunities. We’re addressing a domestic problem and a refugee problem, as well as working to promote community cohesion and solidarity.
At the European Social Innovation Academy this year, we were stunned by the knowledge and collaboration that we came across. We have been able to increase our professionalism and now have a detailed business plan and structure to move the project forward. We learned that it’s very important to build a network of support- including private enterprises, government, schools, and other social innovators.
We currently have an informal network of coach students, and are looking to increase our strategic partners and incentives for all parties- coaches, students and parents. We plan to approach our Minister for Education to get government backing for our programme, and will continue to build partnerships with schools in Istanbul and eventually the rest of Turkey and across Europe.
From the Competition this year we have learned that if we grow these projects individually we might not have as much impact on society, but if we come together and collaborate, our collective impact will be greater.
Read about the other winners here: CUCULA