NGO watch: Rein­vent­ing Muş, one step at a time

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - By Nes­li­han Er

Muş in east­ern Turkey is a re­mote and lit­tle-known city syn­ony­mous among most Turk­ish peo­ple with so­cial, ge­o­graph­i­cal and other hard­ships. In ad­di­tion to the gen­eral dif­fi­cul­ties of life in east­ern Turkey, there is a fur­ther rea­son be­hind the city’s rep­u­ta­tion for mis­for­tune: Dur­ing World War I the Ot­toman Em­pire sent troops to fight in Ye­men. Re­port­edly, in an ef­fort to en­sure sol­i­dar­ity among the troops to be sent to the front (and thereby re­duce the chance of de­ser­tion), the decision was given to send men from only one city. That city was Muş, and of all the men sent, not a sin­gle one re­turned. This tragedy is recorded in the folk­song “Ye­men Türküsü,” which re­counts the grief of the moth­ers, sis­ters, wives and other loved ones left be­hind. And so Muş’s place in pos­ter­ity as a scene of mourn­ing was es­tab­lished. Thus, while many Turk­ish peo­ple might strug­gle to find Muş on the map, the city’s im­age is im­printed on their minds through the tragic folk­song.

How­ever, Muş need not carry this ill-fated im­age with it into the new mil­len­nium, not least be­cause the younger gen­er­a­tion is ready and will­ing to do its best to change the face of the city. A per­fect ex­am­ple of this is the Young Steps as­so­ci­a­tion (Genç Adım­lar Derneği).

Young Steps was founded in 2006 by a group of young Kurds with the aim of cre­at­ing projects to con­trib­ute to Muş, en­cour­age young peo­ple to get in­volved in the is­sues fac­ing youth in the re­gion, and en­able them to ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics and decision mak­ing pro­cesses. In ad­di­tion, the group planned to take ac­tion to con­trib­ute to hu­man rights, de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion and in­ter­cul­tural in­ter­ac­tions in the re­gion. Ini­tially no-one had a clear idea how to achieve th­ese goals. After a de­tailed on­line search, an­swers be­gan to emerge: EU projects funded through the Turk­ish Na­tional Agency. And that is ex­actly what Young Steps did.

With the funds pro­vided by the Turk­ish Na­tional Agency it first rented an of­fice in a block used mostly by lawyers, bought the nec­es­sary equip­ment to fit it out and be­gan to or­ga­nize projects that soon made it a lead­ing youth NGO in Muş.

Youth Ex­change Projects were es­tab­lished to de­velop in­ter­cul­tural and in­ter­na­tional di­a­logue

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Turkey

© PressReader. All rights reserved.