Blue Pencil

13 Oct

During our visit to Istanbul, my class also had to attend several academic lectures and visits.  One of them was to Mavi Kalem, or Blue Pencil.  Mavi Kalem is a social assistance and charity association established in Istanbul in 1999 after an earthquake in the gulf there.  A group of women decided to do relief work and joined forces and have continued the organization since.

The goal of the organization is to spread and develop charity work and volunteerism.  They work in the Fener-Balat region of Istanbul, an area of Istanbul heavily populated by minorities.  Balat has many Kurds, Greeks, and people from the Black Sea region.  The area is very diverse and faces issues discrimination.  Their target group is children, youth, and women and their focus is on women’s rights, children’s rights and education, empowerment, and participation in the community.

Fener-Balat is a rather dilapidated neighborhood


The people who volunteer and work at Mavi Kalem are not paid.  Many of the volunteers are through the European Volunteer Service.  EVS is sort of similar to Erasmus.  If you come from a state that is a member of the EU, you can travel to volunteer anywhere where there is an exchange set up.  I wish the US had something like that!  It seems like all of the volunteer opportunities abroad cost something for the volunteer.  If I am volunteering, I would prefer NOT to pay for it.  I am already doing enough by giving my time and effort.

On a side note, while we were waiting for our meeting with Mavi Kalem to start, we explored the streets a bit.  We ran into a music video shoot for a Turkish singer.


No idea who the guy is.
But he must be famous in Turkey!


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