Al-Shami Kitchen comes into being with the collaboration of academicians, civil workers, and students who seek to empower our Syrian community in Turkey, for the benefit of the refugees as well as Turkish society. We wanted to go beyond theoretical knowledge to the sphere of locality to make a positive impact on the lives of the most vulnerable members of society. Our story began in May 2015 when our founder, Ravza Altuntas-Cakir, participated in MOSAIC ILP 2015 as a Turkish delegate in the hope of making a positive change in the lives of Syrian refugees in her local city, Kocaeli, Turkey. Our long-held wish finally found a platform as MOSAIC really functioned as a spark for us, helping us to think about our aims in a more strategic and structured way.
As a team, we have come together to make a positive change in the social and financial situation of the new members of the society. The team members, based in various parts of Turkey and around the world, have a shared passion for humanitarian causes, human rights concerns, and women’s empowerment ideals.
Al Shami Kitchen is no longer a dream; it is a reality that touches the lives of many Syrian families in different aspects. We would like to thank everyone who made this journey possible with the aim of contributing to the positive changes in the lives of Syrians living in northwest Turkey.
Ravza Altuntas-Cakir was born in Kocaeli, Turkey. She is a PhD candidate at School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University, UK. She has completed her BA (magna cum laude) in International Studies at American University of Sharjah, UAE and MA (distinction) in International Relations-Middle East at Durham University. She has worked as an intern at IRCICA, the subsidiary organ of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). She has also worked as a tutor for the Introduction to Middle East Politics module at Durham University. Her research areas include political theory, democracy, and multiculturalism. She knows Turkish, English, and Arabic. Ravza is particularly interested in youth education and women’s rights and empowerment issues. She has participated in NGO works to support these causes in Turkey, UAE, India, Jordan, and the UK. She was a MOSAIC ILP 2015 delegate representing Turkey.
Hale Eroglu Sager studied International relations in METU, Turkey and she got her MA from the department of History in Bogazici University, Turkey. She recently got her PhD from Harvard University, the USA. She specializes on the history of Chinese Muslim minority.
Asuman Sert was born in Kocaeli, Turkey. She has graduated from the department of Business Administration in the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences at Kocaeli University. She has previously worked as a manager in education sector. Asuman is currently in charge of Woman and Family unit in social works department at Izmit Municipality. She coordinates projects to help women and children and the disadvantaged groups in order to support them, increase their quality of life and improve their capacity. At the same time, she voluntarily works as the president of Woman Assembly in İzmit City Council.
Selma Bardakci is an Atlas Corps Fellow, and she is serving at John D. Evans Foundation. Atlas Corps is an international network of nonprofit leaders in Washington D.C. She holds a BA of Political Science and International Relations from Bahcesehir University in Turkey, during which she was an Erasmus Exchange student at European University Viadrina in Germany for one semester. She also holds a Master of Global Politics and International Relations from Bahcesehir University. She is a Co-Opinion Young Professional Fellow, which is a policy-oriented youth solidarity network that advocates an integrated approach for youth policies in the Middle East and North Africa region to improve the agency of youth and to enhance their economic and social prospects. Selma has been continuously contributing opinion pieces and interviews to Project on the Middle East and the Arab Spring (POMEAS). Selma enjoys focusing on the topics of leadership development, democratization, and youth empowerment.
Irem Nur is pursuing her double major program in Psychological Guidance & Counseling and Primary Education in Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. She has done her internship in UEL, Cass School of Education in the UK and she has newly finished her Erasmus in BUW, Germany. She is a member of some supportive non-govermental organizations for youths and disadvantaged people beside this project. Her interests are special education, educational right, women empowerment and multiculturalism. She speaks Turkish, English and German.
"In this humanitarian crisis, not only refugees are at a test of survival, but our morals, our values, and our humanity
are at a test. Women’s rights, children’s rights, human rights are not ideals to be cherished in the abstract,
but have to be firmly stood up for in such moments."
"It is the duty of all mankind to create a living space that is devoted to human dignity to the refugees,
from their homeland to the safe and peaceful start of life."
"The refugee crisis is becoming a new challenge for not only Turkey, but also for the international community as well.
As global powers deliberate, we need to do something now, on the grassroots level. This crisis requires collective action,
and not only from state actors but also from local partners on-the ground."
"Non-human acts should not inhibit the life of innocents. The life goes everywhere by holding on to life with new chances and opportunities. The important thing is building new ways by refreshing, reborning and recreating our paths."