We started working in 1999 in Düzce, after the earthquake, as a group of volunteers. Mavi Kalem was founded in 2000 by a small group that had volunteered in the earthquake region, worked well together, and who believed in the importance of solidarity. In our first years we worked for the empowerment of women and children who were doubly disadvantaged in the disaster conditions. Besides, we worked to spread humanitarian aid and volunteerism.
In 2002 we moved to İstanbul. We chose Fener-Balat which is an old settlement that has received a lot of internal migration. In the first years of Mavi Kalem we worked with women and children in this region. We worked with women on women’s health, health rights, preventing violence and improving skills to live in a big city. With children, we made art, played games, sports, and etc. as well as supporting their education.
In Mavi Kalem, we have worked with teams. We supported everyone taking part to have input during planning and application. Our teams were largely formed of women. We preserved a female perspective on problem detection, methods, and finding solutions.
Since 2012 Syrian families and their children started joining Mavi Kalem’s activities. We have included Syrian and non-Syrian refugee population into our work because our work are has received external migration beside internal migration; the social tension has increased; risks against women and children have increased; and that working with people that are affected by disasters is one of Mavi Kalem’s specialties.
We have only worked with volunteers until 2015. In 2015 Mavi Kalem has institutionalized to increase its impact and to provide the continuity of people that work in and benefit from Mavi Kalem. However, our perspective is still the same: The basis of our work is to be in close contact with the field and that the projects are shaped by the needs in the field. We still work on women, children, disasters and emergency situations. Alongside the work we have done directly with women and children, we have done advocacy, and have published research reports. We take the data we have reached in our research as a basis to our applications.
After 2018, the number of regions Mavi Kalem works in has increased. Right now we have five offices in three provinces which are: İstanbul (Fatih/Balat, Zeytinburnu, Esenyurt), Adana (Seyhan), Kocaeli (Gebze).
Child Protection Project which aims to decrease the risks and vulnerabilities of refugee children has been the longest running Project of Mavi Kalem. Child Protection Project started in 2017 in Fatih/Balat. Since 2019, it continues in three provinces which are İstanbul, Kocaeli, and Adana. In the scope of this project, the children’s individual cases are followed; their caregivers are provided consultancy; information meetings and psychosocial support activities take place. Moreover, “-18 is Child” campaign runs to popularize the perception that people under the age of 18 are children, in the society.
We have developed the Empowering Girls Workshop Series to increase the awareness in girls aged 12-17, about physical and mental health, and adolescence. Besides applying these workshops in our offices we have reached more girls by collaborating with other organizations.
We have developed the Male Participation for the Empowerment of Women Workshop series in 2019, where men discuss how they can support the empowerment of women. We have started to apply the workshops in İstanbul (Fatih and Zeytinburnu), and Adana.
We have also developed the Training of Trainers for the Male Participation for the Empowerment of Women Workshop Series and Empowering Girls Workshop Series, and we have started applying them.
We opened the Women Consultation and Solidarity Center in Esenyurt in 2019 to increase the awareness of women about their rights, provide them a space where they can talk and share with each other, to find solutions to our problems together, and to do various activities together. In the center we provide general, legal, health, and psychological consultation, and psycho-social support activities.
Mavi Kalem has done projects that spread over Turkey, alongside local activities; and has been part of collaborative work. Mavi Kalem has formed national and international collaborations, and become a member of various networks.
Mavi Kalem works with volunteer groups that are formed from people in the target group, to spread its services and information.
We have a consultation line to support people in need all over Turkey free of charge (Mavi Kalem Consultation Line: +90 850 441 62 84).