TIAFI (Team International Assistance for Integration or Uluslararası Yardımlaşma ve Entegrasyon Derneği in Turkish) is a non-profit grassroot organisation in Izmir. In 2017, TIAFI opened a large community centre in the multicultural and underprivileged Tepecik neighbourhood. With this centre, we – a group of Turkish, Syrian and other international people – aim to increase the empowerment, self-sufficiency and integration of vulnerable Syrian and Turkish families in Izmir.
Our centre is an inclusive and supportive safe-haven that is open every week day. We provide a range of services: individual support at our drop-in ‘TIAFI Info Point’ support desk, a kitchen with free warm lunches, exercise programs for kids with disabilities and creative, educational and skill-development activities for women and children.
Whereas we work mainly to address the individual needs of Syrian refugees, we extend our services to the wider local community where needed as we hope to improve the integration and strengthen social cohesion between Syrian and Turkish people in the community. Please click through the menu, scroll down for more information about our work or read our TIAFI Code of Governance.
activities and people
TIAFI is headed up by Anne O’Rorke. Anne has had a long-time concern for people and humanitarian issues. She attained a degree in Social Studies from University College Cork, Ireland and has enjoyed a successful business career both in Ireland and Turkey where she spent the past 14 years in Izmir as CEO of a construction company. She also holds a Diploma in Executive and Life Coaching from Marino Institute of Education, Dublin, Ireland. Anne set up TIAFI in 2017, in response to the difficulties experienced by the vast number of refugees fleeing from war-torn Syria who require physical and social support in a safe and welcoming environment.
Info Point TIAFI Info Point offers face-to-face support to all refugees who come to our Community Centre seeking help. Our information service is accessible via WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook and is well regarded amongst the refugee community in Turkey. We assist refugees across Turkey and internationally with navigating the Turkish asylum system, education system, and available health and social services. We are proud to team up with the Izmir Bar Association who provide a free weekly legal clinic and advise on matters as Legal consultations on asylum matters, Healthcare, housing and school attendance, ID appointments and red crescent registrations, Employment and training opportunities.
The Info Point is open during weekdays between 09:00 pm and 5:30 pm and is managed by Anwar Abdullah who speaks Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish and English and can also be contacted via WhatsApp or the telephone help line +90 (537) 868 22 64. Since many Syrian refugees do not speak Turkish, the Info Point has an Arabic Facebook page. Anwar himself has a background in humanitarian response and information support to the Syrian community in Turkey. Anwar has worked with Mercy Corps in Turkey since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis in 2016. He provided information and counselling to beneficiaries on how to access health, education and legal services. Whilst with Mercy Corps, Anwar received training on women and child protection together with community worker protection and communication training. He worked with other NGO providers on a cross organisation approach to agree templates and to develop ‘best practice’ solutions. Anwar holds a technical diploma in Hotel Administration from the Aleppo Institute, Syria.
Kitchen Our kitchen is managed by Ayse and Maryam and provides cooked healthy meals for those in our Community Centre thereby promoting a sense of togetherness.
Exercise and Flexibility Programme A study by Mavi Kalem in 2019 stated that 85% of Syrian children are estimated to suffer long-term effects as a result of the war, which often manifests as aggression and/or social isolation. Within our Exercise and Flexibility Programme, sponsored by Avicenna Kultur- und Hilfswerk, we provide soft play structures and gentle exercise support which enable the children who have physical challenges to stretch and strengthen their bodies in a safe environment. The children develop their motor skills, make new friends, improve their social skills and learn to be more comfortable in their bodies. We also teach parents physiotherapeutic exercises that they are able to practice at home and organise yoga sessions for children and women, which helps increase muscle strength, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall health and wellbeing. Through our prosthetics programme we have provided 90 children with prosthetics, wheelchairs and other assistive devices, but with your help we could help more children.
All this work is conducted by Mohammad Alsairavan and Melek Elsalih who are consultant physiotherapists. Mohammad plans and oversees the activities within our Exercise and Flexibility Programme. He graduated with a BA in Physical Therapy (4 years) from Al-Baath University, Homms, Syria. Since then he has practised extensively as a physiotherapist in both Syria and Turkey. He furthered his studies in Turkey and achieved a Masters Certificate from Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir in 2016. Mohammed speaks Arabic, English and Turkish and also works as a translator for TIAFI. His work is invaluable to TIAFI. Malik was awarded a BA in Physiotherapy from Al-Baath University, Homms, Syria. After completing his BA, he worked in Homs Maternity Hospital and at Keferlaha Hospital. Upon moving to Turkey, he joined the TIAFI team and now helps Mohammad with mobility activities.
Workshop TIAFI provides vocational workshops for Syrian refugee women to learn sewing, jewellery making and leather crafts, which are taught by Ahmed, our professional tailor. Thereby economically empowering the women with marketable skills and a safe space to express their creativity. 95% of our products are made from upcycled and recycled materials. We display our bags, purses and jewellery through our website and Facebook and Instagram pages. Feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com if you would like to receive one of these individually made products in exchange for a donation to TIAFI.
Seminars and Group trainings We provide workshops to the local community and training on topics on a wide range of issues affecting families.
ABC Service The ABC Service provides additional support to Syrian and Turkish childrenin their school duties such as homework, exams, and projects. Also, we help children who do not go to a regular Turkish school yet with their admission and enrolment.
Play a Day TIAFI offers a Play a Day service to children aged 4 to 6 years old. Here they play, draw, sing, learn how to be with other children in a group and enjoy warm healthy lunches. Meanwhile, their mothers can go to work. Many refugee and Turkish women need to work to support themselves and their families, but a shortage of affordable daycare facilities restricts their chances of finding employment. The Play a Day service, which is free and includes transport if needed, offers a solution. One that fills the community center with laughter!
Turkish Speaking Club Through our Turkish speaking club we aim to improve the Turkish of Syrian women and children.
Over the past six years, more than 3.4 million registered Syrian refugees (around 46 per cent of them female) have entered Turkey. About 130.000 of them live in Izmir, Turkeys third largest city. Estimates suggest that currently one-fourth of Syrian refugee households in Turkey are headed by women. Many of these women have lost their husbands and families during the war or in their flight, and now find themselves living alone with their children.
Integration is an extraordinarily difficult task for these women, as many who never had formal employment within Syria are now required to enter the labour market within a community that is already economically strained. In addition, the majority of these women do not speak Turkish well and are battling internal and sometimes physical wounds that result from the conflict they have fled. As a consequence, there are women and children living in very poor and sometimes dangerous circumstances.
We want to change this. By establishing a safe space for vulnerable women and their children in the multicultural and economically deprived Tepecik neighbourhood of Zetyinlik we will work together to preserve their dignity and develop a secure livelihood.
There are many people, foundations, partners and sponsors contributing to our work. Together we keep the community centre up and running, help women and children to be safe and have an independent life so they can integrate into local society and so the children can go to school. To further develop our programs and enhance our impact, we continuously look for new partnerships and sponsors. Feel free to get in touch and discuss the possibilities: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would especially like to thank: Avicenna. This amazing German partner is helping us out with money for the exercise and flexibility program, medical devices for children, food and hygiene packs and of course sound advice. And than there is BMZ and GIZ . The project “Improving social services of community centres for refugees and host communities in Turkey” is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit. They are of great value to us. We also would like to thank Izmir Barosu, Sivil Toplum Destek, Mozaik and MitOst for their commitment and important support.
Last but not least we work together with Irish artist Ben Hennessy who tirelessly keeps on fundraising for the art room at TIAFI. During the first COVID lockdowns when Ben’s work in theatre was not required he became inspired to take action on a long-desired goal, to help the Syrian refugee crisis. Ben travelled to Izmir to help us here at TIAFI and he has established an art room for the children and an artists’ studio for visiting artists and has spent months teaching and working with the children and artists. Ben: “Some of the children had never seen markers, let alone paint and none of them had heard of Van Gogh. The war in Syria is ongoing for ten years now and most of these children haven’t known any other life and suddenly they were laughing and painting up a storm. I felt that giving them the opportunity to draw and paint gave them a little bit of humanity back and it utterly reinforced my belief in the creative act. Being creative is part of what makes us human.” If you would like to support this project you can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/bens-tiafi-refugee-centre-art-studio
Want to help?
1. DONATE Any money you are able to provide will go directly to running the community centre, and will cover costs such as: the rent of our community centre, school fees and books for the kids, materials and sewing machines for women who will be trained as seamstresses, delivery of food and hygiene products to self-made camp’s, and kitchen costs. Every donation is more than welcome and will make a difference to the lives of the Syrian and Turkish families who benefit from our Community Centre.
At the moment it is possible to donate via our gofundme page, a direct transfer to our Turkish bank account or by transferring money over for example Western Union. If you want to do so, please contact Anne O’Rorke for more information: email@example.com.
TIAFI Euro Account Name: Uluslararasi Yardimlasma ve Entegrasyon Dernegi IBAN: TR65 0006 4000 0023 4002 5579 45
2. VOLUNTEER People who want lend a helping hand are very welcome. We do have two basic rules for anyone interested in volunteering. 1. You have to stay at least 7 days full time and 2. you have to ensure your own funding for the duration of your stay. Unfortunately, we do not have the funds to financially support volunteers as every Lira we raise goes towards supporting the Centre, but we encourage anyone interested in volunteering with us to seek out alternative sources of funding. Apply via firstname.lastname@example.org by stating your name, residency and when you want to volunteer and we will get back to you with an application form as soon as possible.
3. BUY OUR HANDMADE BAGS OR CLOTHING All our products, bags and jewellery, are unique and handmade by the Syrian refugee women attending our workshop. You can receive the bags as a gift, in exchange for a suggested donation that will be used to run our Community Centre. Please have a look at some of our bags at our TIAFI Donationlist and send an email to email@example.com with your order, quantity, size and your Paypal donation reference. Please be aware that the cost of postage and packaging outside of Europe is not included. Through our Etsy shop you can buy our new clothing line with handmade elegant and comfortable dresses, blouses and more.
4. SHARE Last but not least you can help us by sharing our story. Not only by telling your friends and family about us, but also by following us on Facebook and Instagram. Fo like us there and share. We highly appreciate that.
Sponsor a family
100% coverage The TIAFI Sponsor a Family project gives members of the global community an easy way to make a real and lasting impact in the lives of families. Sponsor a Family is run by TIAFI volunteers and this enables us to donate 100% of your gift directly to the family. Your donation will help feed a family, keep children in school, or help pay the rent. You can select your own family from the profiles. These families have been vetted to verify their needs. This ensures that we are providing the neediest of our families first. If a families condition improves through relocation, employment, or vocational training, we will add other families to our list.
Your commitment What can you do to help? We ask for a minimum 6-month commitment paying as little as € 15 a month. Your gift will be given by hand each month. This gives us an opportunity to see how the family is doing and update you personally. If your budget is limited, we would like to suggest forming your own group from friends, families, co-workers, book groups, scout groups, school groups, etc.. We already have some groups doing this for years and it turns out to be highly effective.
Get started Once you have chosen your family and your form has been received, a volunteer will contact you with easy payment options and details. Do you want to join us and sponsor a family? Get started now and check our family profiles.
Still undecided and in need of more information? The TIAFI Sponsor a Family team is here to help you. Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or send a WhatsApp message to +90 535 634 0628.
Change the life of a young mother. Choose a one-time € 40 pledge. Instead of sponsoring a family you could also help young women to become self-sufficient. How? It is easy. TIAFI offers several free 3 month courses for women. They can choose to learn sewing and pattern making, mobile phone repair, basic computer skills, small business practice or Turkish. However, many of the young women cannot benefit from these courses simply because they cannot afford the bus fare. Your one-time donation of € 40 can cover this cost. Mail for more information to email@example.com or send a WhatsApp message to +90 535 634 0628.
Visit us Monday to Friday, 09.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
Güney Mahallesi, 1140 sokak no. 71
35180 Konak, Izmir
For English +90 537 279 89 92
For Turkish and Arabic + 90 537 868 22 64