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Our Trip to Turkey

This week, my family and I had the opportunity to take a trip to Turkey to visit Small Projects Istanbul. As we traveled past an ancient aqueduct and down a series of winding streets, I had a feeling that we were lost. However, just as we approached a narrow apartment building, a small boy poked his head out the window and shouted a greeting. We had been found.

The building - despite its size - was bustling with life. Energetic volunteers carried supplies up and down several flights of stairs, speaking in a mixture of Arabic, Turkish, and English. Two women welcomed us with tea, and we were instructed to play games with a group of kids.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I barely had time to introduce myself before the kids sat me down in a tiny plastic chair and began to play a card game. After a few rounds, most of the children wandered off in search of snacks. A quiet boy - we’ll call him Malik - remained at the table, and we played Uno in silence. He won every round, fair and square. Then, he asked for my phone, insisting that he would perform a magic trick. I gave it to him, and grinning, Malik slipped it into his pocket and pretended to run off before happily returning it to me.

Later, I was able to teach to kids how to paint a sunset. It proved to be a fun, yet challenging task - water cups were spilled, acrylic paint dried on our hands, and cookie crumbs stuck to the canvases. Despite our language barrier, the products were beautiful, and everyone was happy to take their colorful creations home to their families.

My point is that these young refugees are normal kids. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I love numbers. However, statistics have an othering effect; I’m not working with numbers, I’m working with people. Now, I realize that it's the little things - the small projects - that can make a difference in a person’s life. I didn’t expect that person would be me.


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