Mosaic’s International Leadership Programme (ILP) aims to equip volunteers from around the world with the skills they need to make tangible differences within their local communities.
Ravza Altuntas Çakır from Turkey took part in the 2015 programme and was a delegate at the ILP Summit in Amman, Jordan which featured a visit from HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal. She has since used her newly-acquired skills to establish a crucial and inspiring project, the Al Shami Kitchen, which supports and empowers female refugees from Syria.
Ravza was made aware of the ILP via a friend who had previously been a delegate on the programme. “I had long been interested in social work but felt that I needed guidance and training in how best to put these skills to use. I also lacked any leadership experience and felt that the ILP would be an effective way of becoming confident in this area,” said Ravza.
As the programme began, Ravza met with like-minded people and together they learnt how to shape their good intentions into a set of skills that would be useful when establishing projects within their communities.
“One of the biggest lessons for me was how to think strategically,” Ravza continued. “A plan is not much use on its own; you need the means to implement it on the ground. The ILP really helped with this. I’d never been the most effective communicator but Mosaic gave me not only the confidence to be better at talking to people, but also showed just what was possible when successful communication with a team is enabled.”
Ravza’s new found confidence led to her establishing Al Shami Kitchen in Izmit, south east of Istanbul in Turkey. The project aims to empower Syrian refugee women and support their social and economic integration into Turkish society.
“We use food as a means to encourage and support the refugee women,” Ravza explained. “Cooking is often described as therapeutic and this is certainly true in Al Shami Kitchen. Syrian women cook the food of their homeland and this is then sold to raise further funds for the project. We have also begun offering the women Turkish lessons as well as running private tutoring sessions for their children in order to prepare them for entry into the school system.”
“In the future we want to work with chefs and colleges to raise our women’s skills to a level at which they can gain professional catering qualifications. We’ve also applied for EU funding to build a brand new kitchen facility so we can bring more refugees into the project,” Ravza added.
The role of Mosaic’s ILP was crucial in the inception of the project as Ravza explained, “Without the structure Mosaic helped me develop and the confidence they gave me to approach governmental and non-governmental organisations for help, Al Shami Kitchen would have remained an idea that was never to be realised.”
Aside from the obvious benefits for the refugees themselves, Ravza feels that her participation in the ILP brought significant personal rewards. “I learnt just how much I had in common with the other delegates despite the differences in our cultural, religious and social backgrounds. We were united by both a common desire to help our own communities and the realisation that it’s not naive to think that the world can be a better place.”
Ravza added, “I finished the programme feeling motivated, prepared and hopeful for the future. I’d recommend Mosaic’s ILP to anyone who feels determined to make a change to help those less fortunate than themselves.”