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Discovering the world beyond Europe
An old minibus bounces on each whole in the road, which is incessantly. Monochromatic landscape, muddy orange ground, some thorny bushes, occasionally a house or rather a ruin supported with a sheet of plywood. After a 40 min drive, the minibus stops in front of an iron gate. We are a couple of kilometres from the town of Nizip, which is situated in a 45 km distance from the town of Gaziantep in which I live, 1190 km from Istanbul, 2931 km from Krakow, 3890 km from Brussels...
I came to south-east Turkey in order to provide aid to someone who may need me. I wanted to see the world and maybe get my life in order. At the boarding school for orphans and children coming from poor families located near Nizip no one tells us what to do. Officially, our obligations include propagating knowledge on the European Union. We are a couple of volunteers and 300 kids. School headmaster provides us with a basket ball.
I spend my time mostly with girls. Not one of them speaks English. Sometimes it takes them an hour to explain me something in Turkish, and when I finally grasp what they meant and respond in my broken Turkish, they jump with joy and whoop with laughter.
We draw together. They love colouring books with princesses. The princesses always got blue eyes and blond hair. They wince at my drawings, as my princesses got dark eyes and hair. I taught them how to solve a maze, and they showed me how to play Turkish hopscotch. I was determined not to allow them to grow attached to me. They yearn touch and struggle to hold my hand on the way to the class.
The school is full of true beauties. Gul seems to have Indian roots. During the first three visits to the school I could not take my eyes out of her. Ipek is the youngest and has the most charming smile. Emine keeps a distance and stares at me with her large eyes. Miriam is bursting with energy and loves drawing elephants. Sumeri is a natural born model, the moment I take out my camera, she poses and fools around. Kubrahe can solve any maze in five minutes and recites poems. Leyla is secretive and has the saddest eyes I've ever seen.
There are three hundred kids and I stand no chance of remembering all of their names. Last week, when I asked them who they wanted to be in the future, majority said that they would like to be nurses and teachers. One of them wanted to be a doctor and a silent girl, whose name I do not know, looked at my camera and said ‘a photographer.’
Maria Kula, volunteer.