Istanbul at night, David Gross (techie info: 17mm (35mm equivalent) lens, 1/30 sec @ f/3.5 @ 8000 ASA, Olympus OM-D. Prefocused at 15 feet walking through Istanbul at night, shooting from the waist. Processed as FujiColor Press 800 film in Lightroom.)
Actually, a better title for this post would be “One Step Back, Two Steps Forward”; things looked a bit dour yesterday morning, but ended on a more positive note.
We learned early yesterday, through our Turkish partners, that we will have to be connected to a non-profit or some other governmental group in order to do this work in Turkey. Ever since the Gezi park protests this past year, Istanbullas are wary of crossing paths with the government. Despite the fact that we intentionally designed our project to be apolitical, this doesn’t keep others from potentially seeing it through a political lens. For example, the simple fact that we are working with Syrian refugees can be seen by some as political; there is a belief that the refugees have been given easy entry to Turkey in the hopes that they will vote for a given party in the next elections.
However, as luck would have it, we met yesterday with Çare-Der, a non-profit organization here in Istanbul that specializes in mental health for teenagers and adolescents. Ezgi, one of our art therapists, works with Çare-Der, and was able to set up a meeting for us. They were incredibly generous with their time, and had thoughtful ideas on how to collaborate with us. We’ll hear more from them in a few days, but we’re hoping to work with them.
In other good news, we met yesterday with a Syrian photographer living in Istanbul, Khalid Eid. In addition to his experience as a photographer, Khalid worked recently in Syria with an NGO that does interactive theater with children. He has a few connections to Syrian schools in Turkey, and may be able to help us set up our therapy sessions in one of them. Furthermore, he will be able to translate the sessions for the kids, which is a huge help to us. Khalid’s experience working with children is invaluable, and he had wonderfully creative ideas to contribute to our plans for how to organize the art sessions. We’re very excited to be working with him.
And last but not least, I feel remiss that we’ve been in Istanbul for over a week and have yet to post a photo of a cat. Cats are everywhere in the streets here, and the locals put out food for them daily. So here we go, if only to get this out of my system:
Istanbul, Mieke Strand (iPhone)