Would you like to be the voluntary parent of children working in the streets?

07 Jan 2006

UN Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with the South-eastern Anatolia Project Regional Development Agency (GAP RDA) launched the "Rehabilitation of Children Working on the Streets Project" on 25 January 2006 with a press conference.

The project aims to support schooling of the children working on the streets in 3 provinces of South-eastern Anatolia, namely Gaziantep, Batman and Sanliurfa. The campaign is organized jointly with UNDP, GAP RDA and Express Cargo; and the Swiss Government is financially supporting the project, which will start being implemented as of February 2006.

Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener made the opening speech of the press conference. Swiss Ambassador Walter Gyger, UNDP Resident Representative Jakob Simonsen, GAP RDA President Muammer Yasar Ozgul and Suat Roe from Express Cargo also delivered speeches, highlighting the important aspects of the project. 'The Voluntary Parents Campaign' that will be executed within the context of the project was also introduced during the press conference.

'The Voluntary Parents Campaign'

One of the components of the "Rehabilitation of Children Working on the Streets Project", implemented in partnership with GAP RDA, UNDP and the Governor's Offices of Gaziantep, Batman and Sanliurfa is the 'Voluntary Parents Campaign'.

Voluntary parents will supply the education needs of the children working on the streets of Gaziantep, Sanliurfa and Batman with the consent of their parents; in return the children will attend schools instead of having to work on the streets. In this way, young children of families that are economically disadvantaged that have to work on the streets will be directed to school and their success in school will be boosted.

Those individuals or institutions willing to become a voluntary parent will select a child that has to work on the streets from the mentioned 3 provinces on the website specifically designed for this project and just for once provide the school materials according to the needs of the kid. Personal information about the children such as the working status of their parents, school materials they need and their ages will be published on the website. Express Cargo will go to the houses of the voluntary parents' in 5 days to take the package and deliver the goods to the project centres in the GAP region. Social workers working on behalf of the project will thereby distribute the children the school materials sent by voluntary parents. A voluntary parent can also choose to meet other needs of his child, depending on the willingness of the parent and the family.

Local administrations, with the participation of social workers and the security forces, will monitor those children that receive education materials and ensure that they continue with their education.

The campaign aims at protecting the children from the dangers of working on the streets, while at the same time integrating them with the society and removing the barriers between them and the education they should get. It also aims at ensuring that they become functional individuals within their families and the society itself.

GAP Project

GAP RDA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey and UNDP signed on 20 December 2004 the "Reduction of Socio-economic Disparities in the GAP Region - Phase 2 Programme", which is the continuation of "GAP Sustainable Development Umbrella Programme" being implemented by GAP RDA since 1997.

The second phase of the programme aims to achieve the social development of the disadvantaged groups such as women, youth and children working on the streets in the GAP Region and increase their participation in employment. The programme also covers increasing the planning, managing and implementing capacity of regional development projects. The programme, which is financially supported by the Swiss Government, will be completed in August 2006.

Other activities in the context of the GAP Project

GAP Project, which encourages development activities in order to minimise the regional disparities in Turkey, has three components: Socially and economically empowering

the women, youth and the children working on the streets in South-eastern Anatolia. In this context, several activities have been initiated up to date, including the "Voluntary Parents Campaign".

For instance, women are joining their forces in cooperatives in order to establish the marketing infrastructure and to achieve the corporate sustainability of Multi-Purpose Community Centres (ÇATOMs)*. Since women have to make out invoices in order to keep the flow of sales of products they produce, women coming from all ÇATOMs in Mardin held a meeting. Upon the decision of women, the "Multi-Purpose Business Cooperative" was established in December 2005 in Mardin, following a two-month preliminary work. Number of cooperative members rose to 45 at the recent elections.

Batman ÇATOM is also working on establishing a cooperative. In case of need, another cooperative will be set up in Gaziantep as well. Information meetings on cooperative trading system are carried on in the region. Moreover, a women's umbrella cooperative, in which all women's cooperatives can unite their forces, is also needed in the region. Women will start working on establishing such a union in the coming months.

Youth in the region benefit from the 'National Apprenticeship Programme'

Young people and children aged 0-14 make up 41% of the population in South-eastern Anatolia and mostly they are the ones who are negatively affected by the socio-economic inequalities in the region. The youth greatly suffer from unemployment, one of the major issues of the South-eastern Anatolia. The unemployment rate in the region is 13% and 17 out of 100 young people aged 15-24 is unemployed.

The 'National Apprenticeship Programme' has been launched in order to establish a bridge between the youth and the private sector. This programme provides an opportunity to youth to work as apprentices in several companies nationwide and gain professional experience. Youth and Culture Centres in 8 provinces in the region execute this programme and help young people plan their professional training. To this end, the centres collected and pooled the resumes of 25 young people.

The concerned private-sector companies will cover the transportation and food expenses of young people that will be accepted in the Apprenticeship Programme, which will last minimum 2 and maximum three months. Young people will be employed in the accounting, sales, marketing, secretarial and data processing departments within the company and gain professional experience. Young people will not be paid during the Apprenticeship Programme.

Companies in the region were informed on the National Apprenticeship Programme at meetings held in cooperation with the regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry from 14-21 November 2005. Representatives from 58 companies attended the meetings held in the provinces of Adiyaman, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Batman, Siirt and Mardin. Consequently, companies pledged to employ 41 young people as apprentices. Within the framework of the programme that has been launched in November 2005, a total of 10 young people (6 in Mardin, 2 in Gaziantep, 2 in Adiyaman) started working as trainees in several companies.

*Multi-Purpose Community Centres (ÇATOMs) started being established in the GAP region since 1995. Currently, there are 30 ÇATOMs in 9 provinces of the GAP Region. The target group of ÇATOMs is females above the age of 14.