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Training mothers in Turkish prisons to care for their children under 6 and create sustainable livelihoods for them after they leave prison!

Since 2013 we have been working with our partner TOÇEV to take care of children and their mothers who are serving time in 7 Turkish prisons

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

In partnership with TOÇEV in Istanbul, Turkey Worldview Impact Foundation (WIF) has implemented a special project to trained 608 mothers, 610 children, and 364 officials and guards. Phase 1 of the project called "I Am Free" was completed on 14 January 2016 and Phase 2 of the project called "Free Forever" was completed on 14 August 2017. Now WIF wants to implement Phase 3 of the project called "Born Free" by training the single mother with special vocational education in the prisons and creating sustainable livelihoods for them once they leave prisons reducing the risk for them of re-offending and landing back in prison and destroying the lives of their children. We will train them how to start their own cottage industry businesses which can include: bread making, weaving, organic farming, ecotourism, beekeeping, ecosystem restoration, etc. We believe that all children are Born Free and should not live in prisons so we have to give these mothers a fresh start to rebuild their lives and take care for their children. There has been a steady rise of single mothers who are serving time with no support from their own families in many Turkish prisons over the years. In the last 3 years we have been supporting the children (age group is 0-6) who are incarcerated with their mothers in 7 Turkish prisons that we have selected to work with in the country. We have been working hard to train the over stressed prison staff and psychologists who are supposed to deal with these children and mothers. In Phase 3 of the project we want to make sure that when these mothers leave these 7 prisons with their children, they will live and work in safe and healthy environments free from violence and crime. The idea will lead to long-lasting outcomes where we will have safer communities in Turkey where violence and crime will be drastically reduced. The idea will help catalyze positive changes in the lives of the mothers and their children and lead to wider systemic positive change.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The beneficiaries are single mothers and their children who are serving time in 7 Turkish prisons. The mothers will benefit from the special range of entrepreneurial skills that they will gain during the training giving them a chance to start independent new lives with enough resources to take care of their children. The children will also benefit from the special care and training that will be given to them, making them stronger and more resilient to become healthy and productive young citizens of Turkey. When we started the project approximately 60 mothers, 60 prison staff and 60 children are targeted at the beginning. By the end of the project our local partner had gone beyond our expectations by training and coaching 1020 mothers, 810 children, 500 prison staff in total. We have been working with 0-6 children over the past 3 years that come from low-income families across Turkey. Once the Phase 3 project idea is implemented it will change their lives with the creation of jobs.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

We want to continue the life changing work that we have been doing over the past 3 years with our local partner in Turkey targeting mothers and their children in 7 Turkish prisons. Our new strategy is to train the single mothers who are serving time in these 7 prisons by giving them the appropriate vocational qualifications that will enable them start their own social enterprises in order to sustain and care for their children in the long term in safe and healthy family environments. We the momentum we have built and the success we have created in 7 Turkish prisons over the past 3 years, we now have a new strategy for Phase 3 of the Project called "Born Free". We want to engage with the mothers creating sustainable livelihoods for them by training them on a range of entrepreneurial skills before they leave prison to make sure they can support themselves with meaningful work opportunities. This way the single mothers can provide the special care for their children and never offend.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Worldview Impact Foundation (WIF) is a non profit organisation working to empower young people globally based in London, UK working in partnership with Tüvana Okuma İstekli Çocuk Eğitim Vakfı (TOÇEV) which is a non profit foundation working with children across Turkey and based in Istanbul. WIF TOCEV Civil Society Dialogue

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The inspiration came after the WIF team met the TOCEV team in Istanbul back in 2012 and decided to address this sensitive issue by working together as strategic partners and get the support of the European Commission in Brussels after getting no support from the private sector and other funding agencies in Turkey.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

We believe that our concept is innovative as this model of engagement with mothers has never been implemented in Turkish prisons before. We believe that giving women control over income that ends inequality everywhere. Hence we want to train these mothers with special skills while there are serving time in these 7 Turkish prisons and monitor their learning experiences. Evidence shows that it is not merely a woman’s increased income, but rather her control over that income that helps her achieve economic empowerment. When a woman holds the strings to the family purse, that family is more likely to thrive. We believe the our business model of investing in mothers will succeed on the market and bring back great social returns on investments over a long period of time. Following the Grameen Bank model of engagement we know that when you teach a women the whole villages benefits as mothers always consider taking care of the well being of their children first before themselves.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Yes we have the qualified people and local partners we need to implement Phase 3 of the project that we have described in all the 7 target prisons in Turkey. WIF has been working in partnership with TOCEV in Turkey since 2013 and our collaboration has made an impact in the lives of many mothers children and prison staff so we want to continue on this journey together for implementing Born Free.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The women in Turkey are resourceful economic agents, overcoming persistent, gender-based barriers every day. They have demonstrated they can build informal and formal businesses out of very little capital, create networks to maximize limited resources, all while shouldering the traditional responsibilities placed upon them, duties like child- and home-care. They have succeed in spite of laws, policies that hold them back, but it is a constant struggle so we need to support the women in prisons.

Geographic Focus

We are implementing our project in 7 Turkish women prisons located in different Turkish cities.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We plan to implement this Phase 3 of this project within a time frame of 24 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Rosie Wilson

I think this is a very important initiative and I hope the project can continue.

I just have a few comments. The first is to do with the wording of the proposal, which in places I find somewhat problematic (we don't want to feed the stereotypes that these women face). The title "Training mothers in Turkish prisons to care for their children " implies that the women do not know how to take care of their children and that others (coming from a relatively privaledged position) will tell them how to do this. I think this needs re-wording.

A similar remark re the parapgraph; "Now WIF wants to implement Phase 3 of the project called "Born Free" by training the single mother with special vocational education in the prisons and creating sustainable livelihoods for them once they leave prisons reducing the risk for them of re-offending and landing back in prison and destroying the lives of their children" - again the blame is placed on mothers for "destroying the lives of their children" - I think it needs to be re-worded, and to acknowledge the structural factors that may have contributed to this.

I think there needs to be an explanation of any support available for helping the women to get jobs after prison - this could be difficult due to their background and the economic situation in Turkey. Additionally, will there be any support with childcare while they are working? The women can posess skills but in reality, if they have to be the ones looking after their children, they may not be able to go out and earn money.

I really like the aims of the project but I think these are some real issues that should be discussed.

Photo of Nuray Tanış

Dear Rosie,
Thank you very much for your time and your feedbacks particulary about wording and how it sounded and created an impression we never meant. Since this is a draft, we will try take care of it at later stages. About childcare support for mothers: In Turkey, there are several different support mechanims availablefor pre school children such as reimbursement of nanys’ salaries from government or nurseries that can be accessed even if you are on minimum wages. I cant say that these mechanisms work perfect and cover mothers and kids needs. that is why we try to include as much stakeholders as we can, so we could probide more support for childcare and other issues in Phase3. For instance, we hope that municipialities(local governments in project implementation areas) will be a huge asset and help mothers for childcare in their facilities by prioritizing. As for the jobs, we hope that Phase 3 of our project itself will create job opportunities for them and they could even be entrepreneurs in the ecovillage environment we will provide to them. Thank you again for your inputs and comments.

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh

Thank you so much Rosie for taking time to read through our draft project idea which we made for the review stage and we will incorporate all your suggested edits during the refinement stage.

At a time when the Trump Administration is separating children from their mothers and fathers who are migrating across the border to the US from Mexico as refugees from running away from the conflicts in Central America, our team in Turkey is doing there best to take special care to keep mothers with their young children safe in the prisons. Given your skills and expertise working on public health issues in the context of Medical Anthropology, it would be great if you can consider visiting our team in Turkey and learning more about the challenges they face and perhaps contribute to their important mission. Turkey is now the largest host country of registered refugees with over 3.5 million Syrian refugees.

Photo of Rosie Wilson

Dear Nuray,

Thank-you for your clarifications and good luck with the project.



Photo of Rosie Wilson

I think it is a great initiative. I would love to be involved and to visit the team if I get the chance.

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