We are three days into the Istanbul Project study abroad program and academia is in full effect. Between navigating a Turkish language class, an International Reporting class, a Multi Media class and trying to make a strong beginning with the stories I need to write, I am experiencing the familiar feelings of stress, doubt and, my favorite, brain-overload. The race to the finish line has started folks!
For my first story, I am writing a piece on Street Children in Istanbul. My hope is to be able to interview a few children that live and work in the streets in order to survive. Istanbul has a population of over 30,000 children that either work in the streets or live and work in the streets. These children can be seen all over the city, especially in the highly touristed areas, selling napkins, bottled water, “performing”, and begging. Some of these children have families that are barely surviving, forcing the children to work in order to supplement their families’ incomes. Others have no family, no homes, no means of survival and are treated as social outcasts. Similar to the homeless that I encounter daily in my own neck of the woods, these children are often abused, victimized, and struggle with addiction. As a mother, and a human being, I find these facts to be tough to swallow. I look at my own son, who is 13 years old, and can’t fathom the idea of that child having to fend for himself in a world which can often be harsh and indifferent.
My research has led me to a man named Yusuf Kulca who lives here in Istanbul and who is the founder of a NGO called Children of Hope. Children of Hope, established in 1992, is an organization dedicated to rehabilitating Istanbul’s street children, reuniting them with their families (if applicable) and integrating them back into society. I am currently in the process of trying to get an interview (or two) with Kulca and at the moment, I am coming up on nothing but dead ends. This is the real work in journalism. Writing and photographing is one thing, but I am quickly learning that the real work is in establishing the contacts needed to enable you to do those things. Establishing contacts and gaining their trust is everything in this business.
For tonight I have accomplished all that I can accomplish. T-minus 6 hours until I start it all over again.
Peace and Love