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Emergency Pedagogy in the Turkish earth quake zone

News ,  Current news ,  Emergency pedagogy

On February 6, two earthquakes of magnitude 7.8 and 7.5, occurring in quick succession, caused widespread destruction in parts of Turkey and Syria. More than 50,000 people were killed - including at least 45,968 in Turkey and 7,259 in Syria - and thousands were injured. The earthquakes also destroyed key infrastructure, leaving people in the region in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. With more than 160,000 buildings destroyed or severely damaged, thousands of families are currently still homeless. People have been housed in tents and public buildings. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 1.5 million people in the earthquake zone are without a permanent home. Already in the week after the earthquake, the Emergency Pedagogy department of the Friends of Waldorf Education made contact with the Waldorf seminar in Istanbul. Several online meetings followed in which an intervention was prepared.

Since the 4th of March, an Emergency Pedagogical team of the Friends of Waldorf Education is in Turkey and started its work with a one-day seminar in Istanbul. The participants, with and without pedagogical experience, were grateful for the knowledge they gained about trauma, its symptoms and methods that can be used in their work with traumatized people. The intervention, financially supported by donations from Germany`s Relief Coalition (Aktion Deutschland Hilft), began on March 6th and 7th in Malatya with a total team of 14, including members from Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Iraq, as well as seven pedagogues from Turkey. In the eastern Anatolian city of Malatya, it is noticeable that there is no large-scale destruction. Yet between individual houses that look almost intact, other houses have completely collapsed.

"We have been working with Turkish children who were evacuated because their houses were destroyed or no longer safe enough," reports  Head of Mission Raphaela Logemann, "as well as Syrian children who were either already living in Turkey as refugees at the time of the quake or came after the earthquake and have been here for about three weeks. There are also some children from Afghanistan."

In addition to the work with the children, the intervention is being used to build networks. "We are networking with other NGOs - regionally and internationally - to evaluate how to build long-term Emergency Pedagogical structures," Logemann said.

On March 8th, the team travelled on to Gaziantep, an area closer to the quake's epicentre. Here the destruction is more extensive. Houses that have not completely collapsed are usually so badly damaged that they are no longer habitable. Work began in nearby Pazarcık in Kahramanmaraş province with Turkish children in a camp.  The Emergency Pedagogical work with the children is characterized by an opening and closing circle. In between, age-appropriate activities take place, such as storytelling, painting, working with clay, circle games and movement.

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