The Refugee Education Support Program
Our programs in Istanbul are now open for vaccinated volunteers. See the additional info. section for COVID-19 requirements.
This program is for compassionate volunteers who wish to provide valuable assistance in the Syrian refugee crisis in Turkey.
Syrians have suffered greatly as the result of violence and fear and millions of Syrian refugees have been flooding into Turkey since 2011, to escape the ravages of a long and tragic civil war. Fleeing with nothing, these refugees require all of the basic necessities and the Turkish communities they have come to call home are struggling with the increased demand on resources. Syrian refugees have difficulty integrating into Turkish society. Many are still in shock from their experiences, suffering alienation and grief.
Strict rules exist around international volunteers working directly in refugee camps so our wonderful local partner has instead arranged for volunteers to work in local schools where Syrian and Turkish children study side by side and where the teachers struggle to manage with the increased number of students. Working with Syrian and Turkish students is a hugely rewarding experience and a real eye-opener for any international volunteer. Based in the magnificent ancient Turkish city of Istanbul, a cultural heartland and bustling metropolis, volunteers will have the unique opportunity to experience all that this location has to offer while working to empower people to create a better life for their family.
Goals of this Project:
- Empower the refugees of Syria
- Provide much needed assistance to communities struggling with the refugee crisis
- Improve the future prospects of children through education
- Give the refugees a sense of hope for a brighter future
- Enable inter-cultural exchange which benefits both locals and international volunteers alike.
How You Can Help
This volunteering experience assisting Syrian refugees will be humbling and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help those who have truly suffered. Participants will support refugees by providing humanitarian services to children, both Syrian and Turkish, aged between 5 and 16 years. Participants assist with the implementation of initiatives that support refugees in creating a better life.
Focused on the provision of social services aimed at education, assimilation and empowerment this program is primarily based in local Turkish schools where Syrian Refugees have been placed. This program works to create a sense of belonging for disadvantaged refugees, helping them to create a quality life in Istanbul and work towards self-sufficiency. Volunteers share their culture and language through simple lessons, show compassion and empathy through their interactions with the children and run workshops in topics including art, music, science and drama; providing enrichment in the lives of children and much needed assistance to local teachers.
For those volunteers who possess a positive, can-do attitude and are not afraid to use their initiative, this is a wonderful opportunity to improve the lives of so many families. International volunteers are greatly needed to help support this important work and give these refugees the skills and assistance to work towards a better life.
Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways and can expect to undertake the following tasks:
- Provide humanitarian services
- Monitor refugee children in their new lives, providing feedback to the program
- Spend time with refugee and Turkish children, showing friendship and compassion and assisting with educational activities
- Provide assistance with the administrative functions of the program
Love Volunteers welcomes all those 18 years and over who wish to help create a brighter future for people living in marginalized communities of Turkey. While this project is best suited to those pursuing a career in the fields of anthropology, social work, social entrepreneurship and/or economics, volunteers who simply wish to be involved in a more ‘varied’ project are also welcomed as there are many ways you can assist and individual projects can often be tailored to suit the particular skills and interests or each participant. Importantly, all applicants must first and foremost have a genuine willingness to help, show drive and initiative, and bring a positive 'can-do' attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!
Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:
- Emergency contact
- Police check
- Vaccination Certificate
Love Volunteers have the enviable opportunity of working in and around the magical city of Istanbul. Situated on the Bosphorus, the strait that divides the European and Asian continents, this ancient city is a rich melting pot of people, religion and culture. Famed for its amazing cuisine, volunteers will experience an array of food choices, from coffee houses to market stalls and fine dining to street vendors. From World Heritage sites to the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and so many sightseeing opportunities, there is never a dull moment in this bustling metropolis - the largest city in Turkey.
Among this hive of activity however is a city with a large percentage of its people in need. Many families are struggling to survive, experiencing severe hardship and marginalization. Education can be haphazard at best, with children falling behind and into generational poverty unless they receive the dedicated support they need. Added onto an already complex social and financial landscape came millions of Syrian refugees, fleeing their home country to neighboring Turkey to escape civil war and terror. With the majority flocking to Istanbul, the city is in dire need of programs to assist these Syrian refugees into a brighter future. For an experience like no other helping the inhabitants of Istanbul and its surrounds, Love Volunteers offers volunteering opportunities not to be missed.
Start Dates & Duration
This project is available year-round and programs start (arrival day) every SATURDAY. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 1 week to 3 weeks. Longer stays on a single project cannot be accommodated, but volunteers are welcome to combine multiple projects in order to extend their stay in Istanbul (subject to availability and individual visa conditions).
Spaces on this project are limited and therefore subject to availability. Early booking is recommended.
For current available start dates please check the calendar on the right.
Arrival & Orientation
Upon your arrival in Istanbul, you will be collected at either of the airports noted below and delivered to your accommodation. Here you will receive an orientation to help you settle in, find out about your volunteering placement, the local surroundings and meet your fellow volunteers. A representative from the local team will fill you in on local and regional customs, traveling, rules and recommendations, and of course, what to expect from your volunteering experience. This is a great opportunity to get to know your hosts, meet your fellow volunteers, and ask any last questions you may have.
- Program Arrival Day: SATURDAY
- Program Departure Day: SATURDAY
- Arrival/Departure Airports:
Sabiha Gökçen İnternational Airport (code: SAW) OR
Istanbul Airport (code IST).
Please note that return airport transfer is NOT included in the program fee. Travel time to the airport is roughly 1 hour and check-in is required for international flights 3 hours prior to scheduled departure. The local team can assist with return airport transfer and the cost of this (approximately US$50) can be paid direct to them in-country.
Accommodation & Meals
Volunteers on this project are accommodated at a wonderful public hostel, which is perfectly located in a great area of central Istanbul and within a short commute from the project site/s and the many attractions of this magical city. The hostel is well managed and meticulously clean, and Love Volunteers are usually all placed together when possible.
All standard amenities are available in the hostel, including hot showers and modern bathrooms, laundry room with washing machine, air conditioning and there is even free Wi-Fi and computers! This is a perfect home away from home and a wonderful base for your stay in Turkey!
Volunteers are provided with a breakfast and dinner allowance every day (included in program fee). There are hundreds of local restaurants and cafes close by to choose from, and its a great way to experience the local cuisine and culture.
Private/double rooms are available on request (additional fees apply). Sorry, no home-stay options are available in this location.
Those wishing to arrange their own accommodation are welcome to do so. The program fee is reduced accordingly (excluding accommodation, meals and airport pick up).
1 week - US$165
2 weeks - US$330
3 weeks - US$495
*In addition to the program fees listed above a Registration Fee is payable to secure your place. The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering with Love Volunteers for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime LV Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the LV Trip Planner.
Some things are not included in the program fees listed above, such as flights, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, additional foods and snacks, spending money, local transport, in-country trips and excursions, return airport transfer (unless mentioned above).
Please note that prices are subject to change without notice. Please ensure you have read the Love Volunteers Terms and Conditions & Refund Policy.
COVID-19 entry requirements for Turkey:
Proof of vaccination is required to participate on this program.
- All international visitors must complete an online form within 72 hours of travel.
- All arrivals into Turkey, from countries other than those mentioned below, must have proof of either two Covid vaccinations or recent Covid recovery or a negative PCR test (within 72 hours of arrival).
- Passengers arriving from UK, Iran, Egypt or Singapore will require a negative PCR test taken within the 72 hours prior to arriving in Turkey.
- Passengers from Brazil, South Africa, Nepal and Sri Lanka are banned from entering Turkey until further notice
Sources: https://tr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information-2/ (USA)