Beyond Emergency Aid: Effective Approaches to Trauma for Syrian Refugee Children in Turkey

GPC Member Esra Özsüer and Leyla Akca presented the work of the Maya Vakfi foundation at Synergos to discuss effective approaches to rehabilitating trauma for Syrian refugee children in Turkey.

The crisis is getting worse and the numbers of refugees are rising. As of 2011, there are 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, of which 1.3 million are children. Of these children, only 43% are enrolled in school, retention rates are low and can be improved through better access to mental health care service. Partnering with the Turkish Ministry of Education, Maya Vakfi is providing a community-wide model support system to prevent Syrian refugee children from becoming “The Lost Generation.”

One of Maya Vakfi’s key programs, Project Lift, seeks to break through the cycle of trauma through rehabilitation. Trauma is uncontrollable, overwhelming and a threat to survival. When an individual’s brain is in survival mode, other parts of their brain are turned off to compensate for amount of energy used during survival mode. Project Lift rehabilitates children, parents, and caregivers through creative expressive arts therapy. This type of therapy uses music, dance, drawing and other arts to help break the cycle of trauma and turn off the brain’s survival mode.

Presentations from the event