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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 http://worldviewimpact.org/projects/ TOCEV https://tocev.org.tr/what_is_our_projects.aspx Civil Society Dialogue http://civilsocietydialogue.org/making-toys-out-of-dish-sponge/

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

57 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Rosie Wilson
Team

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
Team

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
Team

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
Team

Dear Nuray,

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

Best,

Rosie

Photo of Rosie Wilson
Team

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

Photo of Aida Alvani
Team

Dear Bremley Lyngdoh, thank you for your beautiful idea.
Having a parent in prison can be a very difficult time for children with long term negative impacts. They may experience a range of emotions such as fear, guilt, confusion or shame and research highlights the following issues as being of particular concern. Stigma and fear of stigma from being associated with having a close family member in prison can create anxiety and stress. Children often experience or fear bullying or exclusion because of their situation.
It would be amazing to teach the children and the single mum's, in order to build strength of character and resilience. That if they face any kind of stigma because their mothers past or as a single mum having been in prison, that they should not view themselves how others view them. That they should only believe about themselves what they know to be true. That they can start afresh and make a real social impact, succeed above and beyond, whether others believe they can or not. Thanks

Photo of Can Yazici
Team

Dear Aida,

Thank you for this beautiful comment... You are totally right. Actually, in order to connect with people at the human level, we need to be able to understand the perspectives, emotions, and motivations of others. We will also be focusing on these attitudes.

After a fresh restart, mother and children should only believe in themselves. By believing themselves, they can make a real social impact, succeed above & beyond...

Many thanks!

Photo of Tuğba Nazli
Team

Dear Aida Alvani,

Thank you for this nice comment. This is a very important issue.

Single mothers and children in prison experience a range of emotions such as fear, guilt, confusion or shame at the same time. They are living in fear of being humiliated in society.

Single mothers should take advantage of the power of effective communication in order to increase the power of their personality and their flexibility. When single mothers are able to communicate through a self-confident and self-expressive stance, it is easier for them to get over the problems they are experiencing.

Thus, with effective communication, single mothers who can express themselves effectively and accurately can lead to a happier and safer life in the society.

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Aida,
Thank you very much for your valuable feedbacks. You described mothers’ and kids’ insights very well. If we can proceed with Phase3, the social impact to be created will be increased a lot since we directly affected their lives afterwards prison. Thank you again

Photo of Maarja Tamm
Team

Firstly just think about the children who are being born and raised in prisons!

Then think about mothers. Having a baby is challenge to any mother, because they want to give best possible care for their newborn. But to have a baby in prison! That is whole different kind of a challenge. If we as society are not able or simply do not want to see reasons behind the looks and behaviours of those “annoying” people who we need to imprison, then at least we should be able to be compassionate about babies. ALL babies are being born to this world without any guilt, all babies are sweet, and they are vulnerable. If babies are born to unfortunate conditions, then we, as grownups with heart inside us, must give them a chance for life. Who dares to deny a child from hope for better life? I do not dare to look at any baby and tell them that they will end up on streets or in crime or in prison! Therefore I support this project. Some of those mothers were also born and growing up in dangerous circumstances. We should break that cycle for these babies who are born in prisons now. No matter what we blame their mothers in, those babies deserve a chance just like all other babies.
There is already an amazing team who has worked on this issue for 5 years. The least we can do is to support them so that they can keep doing that hard work!

Is there also a follow-up for the women who have been in this program? Or in the frame of this project, is there tutoring or other kind of support system for the women once they are released from prison? And how about funding for the social enterprises? I guess that most of those women enter back to freedom with empty pockets, so they would need help for starting producing something? Or is government providing them with some sort of support? Are they being provided with information about available funds? Are they even eligible to apply for any of the funds, I assume their background might be an obstacle? Maybe there is a need for a special kind of fund or supporting network? If these questions are not being covered yet, then maybe next stages of the project could expand to these areas to enlarge the impact and to ensure the sustainability of those mothers.

I am inspired by your attitude and dedication for the work you are doing and I hope that you can continue on with this project!

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Maarja,

Thank you very much for your questions and valuable inputs. You expressed exactly the mothers' situation. When they leave the prison, they are with empty pockets and there are not so many funds available for them. If they are willing to start a small business, Turkish government has some kind of funding for exoffenders who wants to be an entrepreneur but it is very difficult for them to prepare the proposals and other necessary materials without proper advisory support. Also in Turkey, labor law dictate big enterprises must hire exoffenders by calculating a ratio according to the full employment they created. If they dont obey the law, there are penalty fees. So far this did not work very well, because most companies prefer paying the penalty instead of hiring exoffenders. They think of them as a risk so this brings us to the entrepreneurship topic again. That is why we are trying to help them to start their own businesses. Ideally social enterprises would be great for these mothers but in Turkish Trade Law, social enterprise is a new concept. Its business model exists under the roof of other types of entities(such as associations, foundations, cooperations) and this complicates things from the perspectives of tax and other legal issues. Basically, social enterprise is seen as a standard company and pays taxes and other compulsory governmental fees such as insurance etc. despite the fact that its aim is not generating profit to the partners. Because of all, we planned this project to help them with all these issues and as a foundation we could also use our entity as a roof for them to start their businesses and it will help overcoming all these challenges. Thank you.

Photo of Haein Shin
Team

This is a powerful project, what an inspiring idea! I was wondering if you can share some of the elements/topics of the training program for women and children (ie. does the children's program follow national education curriculum? are there financial literacy and life skills incorporated as well to the women's training program?) Thank you

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Haein,
Thank you very much for your comments. Since there is a mixed age group of children in prisons living with their mothers, training and support activites are designed according to their needs. Basically it is all about increasing the communication between mother and the child. Most of the time mothers have self esteem and anger issues and they dont know how to deal with the kids. We pick the parts from national education curriculum and adapt it to the needs of the children. The number of the children change from time to time during our visits in previous phases of the project, following exactly the national curriculum was not useful. Most of the children were developmentally below their ages, this also required tailor made approaches to them.

For the mothers, trainings did not include financial literacy and life skills, yet. But that is a good point you touched. These elements will be covered in Phase 3 of our project to help those mothers and prevent re-offending. If they dont know how to earn their life, statistically they go back to prison again. Along with all the harm to the child and the mother, reoffending costs a lot to the governments, too. On one of the study visits we have made to UK, Bremley introduced us to NGOs working with ex-offenders and we have learnt from them, in UK reoffending costs 40.000 pound per person to government. We dont have a statistics documented regarding this issue in Turkey, but it is obvious that even with a less smaller portion of that money, you can create a big impact on a mother and child's life and change it in a positive way. If we are able to continue to the 3rd phase, we plan to achieve this by creating farms for mothers who are ex offenders with the helps of local governments and they will be able to do ecologic farming and sell their products as entrepreneurs. Thank you

Photo of Tuğba Nazli
Team

Dear Nuray,

Thank you for all your informative comments, I'm inspired by you.

After they leave prisons, they need financial support so they can execute their lives and prepare a good future for their children. When they are free, they also need economic freedom. We should also organize various business skills training sessions to make their own economic freedoms sustainable.

I will also transfer the experiences I learned in different business lines of the service sector. This will provide opportunities for them to communicate effectively and to learn about the occupations and the positions in the service sector.

We will be using all the possibilities to make them live freely and confidently.

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Tugba,
Thank you very much for your valuable comments. I am looking forward to your future contributions.

Photo of annlili
Team

When i was enlightened about this problem i was shocked about some situations what we have in this world. I really do think that those people and this project can make a big difference.

Photo of Kairi Kuusemaa
Team

I am always happy to hear, when someone wants to give a new start or a new life to people, who has lost their way in this life. I feel that prisoners`family members should be included to this work as well. I am not so aware about that topic. But, I can imagine, if female prisoner had do leave behind more children, who are over than 6 years old, and do not have possibility to see them just because of destroyed relations with her relatives. It can also make new start easier and reduce woman`s fear in case of her relative wants to harm her after she had left the prison.
There was mentioned that "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." They had not received any support, but maybe they had to face ongoing mental abuse by their families. And we cannot forget that these women came from the society, who created them and directed them to make mistakes, which leaded them to prison. Therefore, I truly believe that prisoners`family members should be also involved to this project to spread at least peace between prisoner and her relatives to avoid future conflicts.

Photo of Can Yazici
Team

Dear Kairi,

Thank you for this valuable point of view. Prisoners` family members can be included in the next phases as well. As you said, the female prisoner may have to leave behind more children, who are over than 6 years old and do not have the possibility to see them just because of destroyed relations with her relatives.

We will definitely take this point of view into consideration.

Many thanks!

Photo of Tuğba Nazli
Team

Dear Kairi Kuusema,

Thank you for your valuable comment. You are absolutely right.

The smallest unit of society is family, and individuals may be unable to express themselves, especially to their own family members. Psychological violence may be exposed. The source of these problems, of course, is the lack of education and the awareness of the individuality.

It may be possible to involve prisoners`family members into this project to spread at least peace between the prisoner and her relatives to avoid future conflicts.

Their awareness in communicating with family members will enable them to understand what is happening around them in a real way.

Photo of Jessica Healy
Team

What a fantastic project - inspirational vision, with professional execution. I am impressed with the way that this project has developed through the different stages, with increasing impact at every phase. As someone with a background in social science research and paediatric nursing, I fully support the work that Bremley and his team are implementing with this project. The physical and psychological health inequalities are well documented amongst those who are less privileged, so it is crucial that the most vulnerable in society are supported to reach their potential.

I am confident that this project will have a lasting impact for generations to come - not only helping the mothers to break away from destructive circumstances, but also empowering them to love and support their children, with skills that can elevate them from poverty.

I am also impressed by the interdisciplinary, holistic approach to this project - drawing on the skills and resources from multiple experts; psychologists, sociologists, child development experts, social entrepreneurs and more. Moreover, this has a grass-roots approach, utilizing a local team who understand the cultural context of these mothers and their children, enabling this work to be truly understood and applied by all involved.

Well done Bremley, once again you have executed a powerful project that will have a long lasting impact for generations to come! I wish you all the best in seeing this through to the next phase.

Wishing you and your team ever success!

Daisy

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Jessica,

Thank you so much for your wonderful words about our project. . Our interdisciplinary team came together for creating impacts on these children's and mothers' life. It would not certainly come to this level without Bremley's helps. In all of our study visits to UK, he has introduced us to distinghuished experts from different NGOs in similar working areas. We have been inspired from their activities and how they overcome challenges even in the most disadvantaged areas and backgrounds. That is how we started to plan Phase 3. I hope we can combine several different expertise for Phase 3 and create new horizons for exoffender mothers and their children. Thank you

Photo of Can Yazici
Team

Dear Jessica,

What a great comment... To add on what Nuray says, as someone with a background in social science research and pediatric nursing, your comment is very valuable for us.

Besides, from ten years of my experience of organizing eco-camps, I can definitely say that mothers and children will be healing themselves as well in the eco-camps dedicated to health, healing, and sustainability. After the fresh start to rebuild their lives and take care of their children, mothers will be more powerful than ever via the eco-camps.

We will be implementing more effective phases with these valuable ideas & supports.

Many thanks!

Photo of Tuğba Nazli
Team

Dear Jessica Healy,

Thanks for your valuable comment.

In addition to what you write, I want to add my comment as well.

Everything is beginning with communication.

We need to train mothers and children in order to make them feel integrated into the society, so we need to teach them how to communicate effectively. Because the source of all the problems is basically created by the lack of effective communication.

As Can mentioned, eco-camps will be very effective for rebuilding themselves as re-born after they have gone out of prison. In addition to this, communication skills are crucial for them to make them recognize themselves and express themselves well in bilateral relations.

It is very important and necessary that they should also have awareness in the society through effective communication.

As being an Effective Communication Advisor, I will also provide Effective Communication Training sessions to make them live their lives more happily and more confidently in order to build sustainable relationships in their both social and business lives.

At the same time, I will also share my business skills and experiences with them.

Photo of Linda Linda
Team

Dear Bremley & Nuray, This project sounds like it will be far reaching in its social impact and will be turning the lives around for these individuals and others.

Through educational and supportive programmes these families will be given a second chance to become valued members of their society.

Keep up the great work!

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Linda, Thank you very much for your support. We are particularly focusing on social impact issue now. In Phase 1 and Phase 2 of our project, all support and training activities have been carried out in prisons now we take it to outside together with the mothers who are out. We hope Phase 3 will help us to define all those impact parameters clearly and we will achieve more good for both from the perspectives of whole society and the exoffenders. Thank you.

Photo of Can Yazici
Team

Dear Linda,

Thank you very much for your comment. You're absolutely right; in providing single mothers with the necessary skills to maintain financial sustainability, they are given the opportunity to strike a new path in life. To add on what Nuray says, our team believes that no one should be left behind, therefore we intend to increase the project's positive impact on the single mothers' and their families' living conditions In the upcoming phase.

Photo of Mumtaz VanderVord
Team

Dear Bremley, I am very happy to hear of such a wonderful and I can only assume, a much needed project. This endevour would offer much needed respite to the single mothers and children who are in need of support, and particularly if it expanded further, to provide financial stability in creating a means towards a sustainable livelihood that would benefit them and instill a sense of pride and dignity. I appreciate your fantastic efforts in addressing this noble cause.

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Mumtaz, Thank you very much for your kind words about our project. Phase 3 is both challenging and also exciting for us. Thank you for the support.

Photo of Can Yazici
Team

Dear Mumtaz,

Thank you very much for your comment. To add on what Nuray says, in phase 3 we will be focusing on accelerating the project's progress, in particular regarding the mothers' financial situation. Training single mothers in prison with special vocational education will definitely improve their opportunities to reach financial stability. Not only will they find it easier to set foot in the business world, but they'll also be more confident in their abilities and optimistic regarding their future. Being able to believe in themselves and witnessing their own educational upgrading will ensure an optimistic and resilient mindset, which will ultimately lead to a healthier relationship with their children.

Photo of Can Yazici
Team

I’m inspired to see the development of this project as I have been supporting TOÇEV in Turkey from the very start of this partnership with Worldview Impact Foundation (WIF) in the UK. I have travelled to the UK frequently to assist WIF in developing the next phase of the project. In the third phase of the project we will focus on the training mothers in prisons to create sustainable livelihoods for them when they leave the prisons. I look forward to helping to scale up this project in Turkey before replicating the model with the help of local partners working on addressing similar issues in other countries.

Photo of Zeena Bashir
Team

Dear Bremley, Congratulations on your fantastic idea!

I totally agree with the concept "Born Free" as this is the Basic Human Right of every individual, irrespective of their nationality, age, gender, ethnic origin, etc. It is unfortunate that these children have to begin their lives and spend their early years in prison, for no fault of theirs. Phase 3 of your project would definitely provide support, encouragement and hope for a better life and future to these women and their children. Educating the prison staff would make them more understanding in addition to being emotionally equipped in dealing with the mothers and their children.

You are right when you say that by teaching a women, the whole village would be benefitted because mothers tend to prioritise the welfare of their children. In addition, the various knowledge and skills learnt would hopefully be passed on to their children and so on, thus benefiting future generations.

I do have a few questions; You did mention that you plan to implement Phase 3 on the 7 prisons that you had selected. Are there more such prisons in Turkey? Was your selection random or did you select them based on certain criteria?

How would this benefit the woman who is serving a life sentence? What happens to her child in this situation?

Well done on Phase 1 & 2 and I wish you all the very best and success in implementing Phase 3!





.

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Zeena,
Thank you very much for your questions and valuable feedbacks. Our selection for prisons are not random. These are the prisons we have been doing field work for the last 15 months. They have been given to us by Ministry of Justice in Turkey by considering the number of mothers and children staying together in prisons. Since we have established good contacts with prisoners here, we hope to sustain the relationship after they get out of prison and help them to generate an income and have a decent life with their children.
Thank you also for asking about the women serving for life sentence. Actually this is not a case we have encountered up to now. Ministry of Justice do not tell us what crimes these mothers have committed, because they want to protect their privacy. What we have been told is that, major part of these women have committed simple offenses therefore they have a chance of getting out while they are still young and draw a new path for themselves. That is what we exactly aim for Phase 3. After they get out of the prison, we plan to help them start their new live outside based on ecological farming practices and support themselves and their children financially. Thank you.

Photo of Lorena Álvarez
Team

Dear Bremley, thank you for this wonderful idea,

This project would offer help to a invisible part of the society, single mothers and children who need support. Giving these women skills and opportunities will reduce stigma and poverty. Children suffer a lot when their reference in life (mother) live under these conditions; research says that the last option for a kid is grow in an institution, so these activities will let children stay with their families and environment. Looks easy, but I know the high amount of work that needs to be done, as prison means a high stigma for people. Probably these mothers will need a lot of support, psychological support and also vocational training sessions and then opportunities in the real work (out there). Definitely this project sounds like the opportunity they need. Keep the great work!

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Lorena,
Thank you very much for your comments. During Phase 1 and Phase 2 of our project, our activities mainly focused on psychological supports to mothers and contributing to improve their relationships with the children. With Phase3, we hope to create a chance for them outside, so that they don't go back. With the ecologic farming practices and art workshops, they will be able to support themselves financially and they will also find means for a kind of rehabilitation. too.

Photo of Sai Nellore
Team

Dear Bremley, I am very happy to hear your engagement in this endeavour. This project would offer much needed succour to the single mothers and children who are in need of support. The project can evolve and provide the necessary support ecosystem for the single mothers to create a sustainable livelihood that would benefit not the only the individual but also the community to which they belong. The integration of capacity development and market opportunities to the beneficiaries would really create a momentum for self sustaining the same. Once again, I appreciate your commendable efforts in addressing this challenges. Look forward to opportunities to work on similar projects together.

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Sai, Thank you so much for your comment. Bremley helped us at Phase 1 and Phase 2 and still giving us vision for Phase 3 by focusing on the life after prison issue. Once we can initiate Phase 3, ecological farming approach will bring together every stakeholder
under a roof and sustainability from all sides will be achieved. Imagine ecological farms hosting exoffenders mothers and children together. Fruits and vegetables are grown and sold in the local markets maybe sold online. too. Art trainings and projects carried out by mothers and children under the tutorship of experienced artists and products are sold. Mothers are proud and happy, they earn their life, no anger or self esteem issues. Kids are happy and they are surrounded by opportunities to achieve what they want to do with their life.

Photo of Sai Nellore
Team

Dear Nuray, That's a very good approach that you are pursuing. I have worked on a similar activity some time back where we have collaborated with a prison in raising nurseries within the prison compound. The saplings were offered to local farmers to plant in their fields. This can be an additional training for offenders who are expected to be released in due course of time. Thanks and wishing you all the best.

Photo of Kathryn Karpinski
Team

Thank you, Bremley, for your inspiring work all around the globe. This mission will improve the lives of thousands. Giving these women agency through education and application of new skills will reduce recidivism and extreme poverty amongst the beneficiaries. From a childhood developmental perspective, please consider some if the following during planning and implementation:

*Most women learn about healthy childhood development from their family and social network. They are cut off from that information while in prison.
*Teach the women about developmental stages of childhood and give activities to foster normal developmental growth.
*Donations of toys and learning material are critical. Having access to a space for the children to socialize and play will be highly beneficial to social and cognitive development. Coordinating donations and making sure they get to where they were intended.

The benefit is these children will better integrate into school and society if their developmental needs are met.

Thanks a ton!

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Kathryn, thank you very much for your comments. I am particularly attracted to the donations of toys and learning materials part. Again thanks to the EU funding we got, during Phase 1 and Phase 2, we purchased some toys and learning materials for children living in prisons. Also we managed to organize kindergarten spaces for some of the prisons who don't have facilities. We also did this for basic needs of children such as diapers and baby food. But with the inspiration from your suggestions, I am now thinking organization of donation campaign for these children would be a perfect activity for Phase 3. It did not go well when we asked for sponsorship from corporates, but I believe lots of individuals calling our office and asking how they can help will create a huge impact here. Thank you

Photo of Joanne Schanté
Team

Dear Bremley, I'm delighted to hear for the first time about this project of yours! Some comments and ideas :
-one of your strengths is community empowerment and decentralized development, which you are doing do well in NE India for farmers in particular. You can show us how you will leverage this invaluable experience and apply the lessons learnt to this domain, for greater impact.
- As you know I'm a peer to peer learning lover, and you could imagine having the women pair up in buddies to help each other, for example pairing up one who made it through with one who's still in jail, also an opportunity to pair up their kids as well!
- How do you plan to find this huge program in the long term, given the number of beneficiaries who need it? It immediately rings to me the concept of social impact bonds that Sir Ronald Cohen launched 10years ago in the UK to reduce retaliation rates if prisoners by providing them the right support to recreate their lives meaningfully.
- can you precise more in the description what are the training techniques, lessons learnt so far and what makes the methodology unique? It would help to see how this is a true innovation, while there's absolutely no doubt on the positive impact it will provide
Good luck and keep it up tiger! :-)
Joanne, OpenTeam co-founder (http://OpenTeam.co)
PS hello OpenIdeo team! what you do is amazing! What about we explore collaboration areas in the work we're doing on scaling climate solutions through our wide scale replication program? Feel free to give me a ring ;-) Joanne@openteam.co

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Joanne, Thank you so much for putting peer to peer learning concept for our further works in Phase 3. During our journey in Phase 1 and Phase 2, we have seen good examples of that within or team, thanks to Bremley. As a great leader of an international NGO, active in many areas of the world, the way he takes challenges and uses different perspectives to solve them affected all of us. Using this method for mothers in prisons and who are exoffenders is an excellent suggestion. We can try to put this in practice once we have success stories from the exoffenders, who have managed to hold on to the life.
Also it is good to ask about the lessons learnt so far and our methodology. In Phase 1 and Phase 2, the main challenge was to convince mothers to participate in trainings and support activities. Thanks to the EU funding we acquired, we managed to sustain our visits and trainings for the past last 3 years. It was very challenging to make them believe that our team will keep coming and we are there to support them. Because they were so hopeless and got so many twists from life and their loved ones, we had to cross these barriers first. I think what makes our methodology unique lies under how we solve this trust issue. As TOCEV, we are a small team working with distinguished experts and consultants from all over Turkey. Our small core team has not changed during this project and we kept doing the visits together with the specially selected psychologists and child development specialists. Our talented team made the difference by going on prison tours for a week every month during Phase 1 and Phase 2. By the way, thank you for mentioning Sir Ronald Cohen. I was not aware of his works and just took a quick look and it really impressed me, there are a lot of inspirations for our planned Phase 3.

Photo of Sophie Anastasiou
Team

In your cause to support single mothers, released from prison to build social enterprises to ensure that they can support their children. This would make a huge social impact on these families and have positive future outcomes on the children. Considering the following, I aim to contribute, in suggesting other methods that can be used, in making this mission that you have set Brem, to help these families to ‘stay free’. Ensuring positive future outcomes for their children too, so as they too will be able to create sustainable futures.

Firstly, what comes to mind is, part of what causes an individual to take an unlawful route, and to be lured by criminality, is the individual unintentionally dehumanizing others and not realizing others needs and feelings. This could be due to their primary relationship with their mother and/or father which if it was an insecure relationship, this will affect how they relate to others. This needs to be identified to ensure the awareness of the effect this might have on how they choose to parent their own children and also how it might affect their relationships with others and how it has affected limited success in areas they may have otherwise been successful, such as gaining an education. Research shows that becoming deregulated in your emotions, affects memory and how successful you will be in learning & in your career, being aware of this in the anger management training is important. Once this happens an individual can become secure by changing their behavior towards others and through this awareness, the mother’s can feel empowered, gaining a positive sense of self.

Re-engaging these mothers to taking into consideration their peers and their children’s feelings will make them more sensitive and considerate to others needs and will lead to their own needs being met. There is research to show that helping others contributes to an individual’s happiness, therefore installing this in them, to whenever possible help their peers and their children to achieve a certain outcome, will improve their mood. Ensuring positive relationships are then being built with their children and peers. This will also build support networks, which will make it less likely that these single mothers will re-offend.

As well as this ensuring there is a child-centered approach where the child’s opinions and feelings are taken into consideration, in the support they are giving, to empower the children.

Re-enforcing honesty, integrity and respect by modelling this to the mothers, by treating them in this way to rebuild the image that they have of their treatment by others. This will change how they respond to their children and to their peers and will ensure that they become supportive to others and are more open to receiving support.

Another important aspect that would have a huge social impact on these mothers would be to support them to identify who they are as individuals, reinforcing their identity which will support their social and emotional development as being previously labelled as a criminal can leave them feeling devalued. which will contribute to ensuring that they are mentally healthy. Ways that this can be done is through photography. This can be used to record their journey as you would use learning journeys for children. This will focus on both the children’s and the mother’s achievements and their positivity. This will function to integrate them into society, giving them a sense of belonging which is important, showing them where they fit in and the key role that they play.

Something else that isn’t specified is, how the children are supported in terms of their social and emotional development and how they can be made aware of their experiences, how it might affect them and understanding the feelings and actions of their mothers. Given their experiences and individual needs which may not have been identified before and may not have been met. This could be done through role play, ensuring that positive relationships are built through understanding what their mothers have experienced, and they were brought up, making the children resilient to any hardship in the future and rising beyond this. Installing a sense of honest, integrity and respect by treating the children in this way, even when they show challenging behavior will install a sense of trust and ensure that they act in a caring way towards others.

Respite care, that will allow the mothers to have adult conversations, reflecting on their achievements and what they would like to improve on will also build confidence and ensure they build a sustainable future by building support networks. This also encourages quality time with their children as when you are around your child or children for long periods without any respite, this can lead to the mother becoming insensitive to the child’s needs and feeling overwhelmed.

Hope this has offered some more insight into what could potentially be developed.

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Sophie, Thank you so much for your great input to the project. During Phase 1 and Phase 2, TOCEV included psychologists and child development specialist to help children and mothers in prisons. But as you can imagine, our time with them was very limited and the children keep changing between our allowed visits period. In Phase 3, we will have more time to monitor them and increase our customized approach designed based on the needs of each child. Also mothers will be receiving more support on how to sustain relationship with their children on a positive way no matter what are the surrounding conditions are. The photography you suggested seems a great way to record their journeys from this perspective. Thank you so much for your contribution, we will definitely use it. In our prison time, we were not allowed to take pictures to protect privacy. But in Phase 3, once they are out, we can use videos as well to show them how they make progress and help them to be proud of themselves.

Photo of Farid Uddin Ahmed
Team

Hi Bremley, Thanks for sharing your work. I have gone through the link. This is very interesting. In a country like ours, human right is seriously suppressed even outside jail. Turkey - having some similarities with us has allowed you to work for people in Jail. This is really great. The jail authority in Bangladesh may not be so open. I went to Los Angeles few years back. My brother in-law works for mentoring people in jail. He told me that there are plenty of scope to help the prisoners so that they can come back to their normal life. He told me that he found some foreigners too who needed help. You have targeted mother and the children. For me addressing the problem of children is more important as for no fault of them, they are in jail and having a life which is not normal. Your approach to help developing capacity of the women or mother to earn livelihood from different income generating activities is highly appreciating. When she will be out of jail, she goes back with skill. I consider this as right approach.

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Farid, Thank you so much for your time to go through all info about our project and sharing experiences and examples. You are totally right indeed, it is very difficult to go inside the prison and do some work in Turkey. TOCEV is the only NGO, who are allowed to the prisons at national level. With a history of more than 20 years with children and credible experiences and trust helps us with that. Also on study visits to UK, we have organized with Bremley's helps to get to know NGOs opeating in similar area, we had representatives from Ministry of Justice, too. On one time, a judge came along with our team to exchange information and to benchmark activities organized for both prisons and ex offenders. Judge was the Head of Unit responsible for all training activites in prisons. On one of our visit to Prisones Abroad in UK, we have found about the different challenges faced by foreigners in prisons. The judge informed us about the number of foreign people in Turkish prisons at that time. Although as TOCEV, our focus is not foreigners in prisons, we made a note about it to help Turkish citizens in foreign prison to pass to the other NGOs in Turkey, who might be working in that area. Your comments are very valuable to us because it shows that no matter how hard we try, there are still more people with different challenges require support and helps. For the time being, our focus will be children and with Phase 3, we will e the happiest if we could provide their mothers a living income and a decent environment to live and nurture. Thank you.

Photo of Endre Hunnyadi
Team

Dear Bremley Lyngdoh,
Congratulations for this sustainable idea. At a first sight, I tend to believe that this model for creating sustainable livelihoods for mothers and children might be a solution not just for Turkey but also for Eastern European Countries. My only suggestion for this project would be to include at a minor level the artistic side of life, letting mothers and children enjoying and finding redemption in the many forms of art.

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Endre, Thank you so much for the wonderful input. As TOCEV, we would love to use different forms of art to inspire children and mothers and encourage their creativity. Maybe putting some kind of trainings in the eco-farm we plan to start in Phase 3. Art products can also be sold along with the agricultural products from the farm and this can contribute to their living. For example, making glass beads and jewelry made from those beads can be a good option. Thank you so much, we will consider such examples in Phase 3.

Photo of Bayubasire Joel Djanda
Team

Dear Bremley, I am really delighted to hear about this crucial and incredible social initiative. Congratulations for the work you have done so far. This project is the one needed for such a group of beneficiaries. This would produce more impact than expected if you could also enhance self-awareness and self-esteem skills within the training activities. Self-awareness and self-esteem skills would be more helpful for these already marginalized women to explore and discover more of who and what they are as well as to explore issues of conscience and how self-esteem develops. Most importantly, a vocational training project would provide an honorable source of income, jobs creation and facilitate skill development for these single mothers and their children. The same project could also be replicated in African countries, especially in DRC, Burundi and Uganda where thousands of single mothers (or sex workers) could benefit from it and thus make a great difference in our world. As you already know, I and Refugee Friends Care Organization Uganda (http://www.refugee-friends-care.org) are interested, willing and ready to help achieve your hard but crucial mission! Congratulations!!!

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Joel, Thank you very much for your valuable comments. The mothers in prison need self awareness and self esteem skills indeed. This really affects their relationships with their children. We observe that the link between the mother and the child are negatively effected without these skills. During Phase 1 and Phase 2 of our projects, our visits to prisons and training & support activities organized in prisons included these elements. We also want to continue to include these elements since they need it more in their lives after prison. To prevent them reoffending and sustain their positive relationship with the children requires job creation for them. As you kindly suggested as vocational training, we plan to include these type of trainings in Phase 3 focusing on ecological farming and entrepreneurship. Women will be able to rehabilitate themselves by dealing with nature and also earn their lives. What you are doing with Refugee Friends Care Organization seems very inspiring and we will be happy to cooperate once we started Phase 3. Thank you so much.

Photo of Amanda Cox
Team

This is a fantastic way to ensure children remain in the care of a parent and not be placed in an institution/orphanage.

Photo of Nuray Tanış
Team

Dear Amanda, Thank you very much for your comment. This is also one of the reasons we are still doing this project and hope to continue with Phase 3 and create impact on their lives.

Photo of Paolo Spagnoli
Team

Dear Bremley for your best knowledge and if this could be in any way support to your project at present i am involved with The Office of the Special Representative on Migration and Refugees of the Council of Europe which is looking to prepare and publish a compilation of good practices on migration-related procedures that are child-friendly. Experts are selected on the basis of their knowledge of children’s rights, immigration and refugee law and child-friendly justice principles. This task is lead by the Office of the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees Bureau du Représentant spécial auprès du Secrétaire Général sur les migrations et les réfugiés Conseil del'Europe - Council of Europe
https://www.coe.int/en/web/special-representative-secretary-general-migration-refugees/home

Photo of Paolo Spagnoli
Team

This project is amazing. In a world of consumption and materialistic things there are still people driven by good will and love for others who unfortunately are in worst situation compare to average middle class capitalistic driven lifestyle. I would love to be involved and be able to provide support and help to fully success of the project.

Photo of Jaskeerat Bedi
Team

Hi Bremley Lyngdoh , Nuray Tanış , Aybike Yurtsever ! Thank you for sharing with us about this amazing initiative that your organization is leading. I am really excited about your idea because it addresses peace and prosperity by way of socio-economic upliftment. I’d be curious to learn some of the insights from the first 2 phases of this project. For instance- How did you measure impact? How do you chose local partners? What kind of training to do you provide prison staff? What does a training module look like? Are there some stories that you can share?

Storytelling is an important tool used in HCD frameworks. I’d curious to see how you can leverage it to support your idea further. AdTuba Naziruddin  Dima Boulad  and Ashley Tillman  who might have some great inputs regarding storytelling.

Photo of Dima Boulad
Team

@Jaskeerat Bedi Absolutely! Would love to hear more stories that could help communicate the idea. Bremley Lyngdoh and team congrats on submitting your idea to the challenge, you might find these tips useful for a first entry into storytelling!
https://www.ideou.com/blogs/inspiration/5-tips-that-will-make-you-a-better-storyteller

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

Thank you so much for your valuable inputs and questions Jaskeerat which we really appreciate. Indeed our project idea for Phase 3 will help scale up our impact from Phase 1 and Phase 2 while addressing peace and prosperity through direct socio-economic upliftment for the single mothers in prisons who we are working with.

The “I am free” Project was implemented for 0-6 age group children who stayed with their mothers in prisons by TOÇEV in collaboration with WIF and the Ministry of Justice General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Centers. The main objective was to enable mothers and children establish a quality relationship, and to help mothers develop better motherhood skills and use their time with their children more effectively.

Within the scope of the project, seven prisons were visited regularly every month and trainings were organized for mothers who stay with their children and for officials and guards in the facilities. The “I am Free” Phase 1 Project ended with a press and closing meeting in Istanbul on January 14, 2016.

TOÇEV’s Vice Chairman of the Board Betül Mermertaş was very happy for implementing the project they had been dreaming of for five years and they would continue working on the same topic through the grant received under Civil Society Dialogue’s fourth phase. The Phase 1 of project trained 608 mothers, 610 children, and 364 officials and guards in 10 months.

The Branch Manager from the Ministry of Justice General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Centers, Emrullah Özger said that while public resources existed on one side of the services provided for 0-6 age group children who stay with their mothers in prisons, civil society organizations existed on the other side. Phase 2 of the project included prison visits twice a month during 12 months which was later changed because the time schedule changed due to the military coup in July 2017.

The Denver Developmental Screening Test was applied on every child in the 7 prisons and necessary actions were taken for the children showing risky development elements. Over 20,180 km of driving was covered by the local team to coach and train 1020 mothers, 810 children and 500 prison guards in all the 7 Turkish prisons. The “Free Forever” Phase 2 Project ended with a press and closing meeting in Istanbul on August 14, 2017.

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

Thank you so much for your interest in hearing more stories Dima to help communicate our project idea better. I really appreciate you sharing the useful tips for storytelling to our team.

During the Phase 2 of the project, our Turkish project team started to conduct training and individual support activities for children and mothers in prison and prison officers. Raising children in an environment that always tends towards negativity is challenging especially for mother herself who is depressed and maybe in angry situations. Within Phase 2 of the project, a special training program was implemented by psychologists, sociologists and child development experts from universities within the network of TOÇEV. All trainings were conducted in 7 selected prisons from different cities as advised by Ministry of Justice-General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses. These prisons are as follows:

• Bursa Yenişehir Kadın Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu
• Burhaniye T Tipi Kapalı ve Açık Ceza İnfaz Kurumu
• Balıkesir L Tipi Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu
• Denizli D Tipi Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu
• Denizli Bozkurt Kadın Ceza İnfaz Kurumu
• Antalya L Tipi Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu
• İstanbul Bakırköy Kadın Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu

In Phase 2 of the project we implemented a special programme designed by TOÇEV. The Denver Developmental Scanning test was applied to all children (age 0 to 6) in 7 target prisons to measured personal and social skills of children, language and fine motor and gross motor skills. During these visits, children were observed and mothers were informed about the test and what to do with the test results. These mothers were supported with their behaviours and child raising skills. They received appropriate trainings from TOÇEV team and psychologists. The topics of the trainings are as follows:
• Anger management
• Self value
• Influence of language on perception and behaviour
• Visualising a positive future for their children
• Personal development and awareness

In order to make the project feasible we have been supporting the psychologists and staff working in the 7 Turkish prisons. Our aim was to organize trainings and support activities for the psychologists who are working with the mothers in these prisons.

With this intervention, the psychologists working in prisons in each target city’s prison were invited to İstanbul for support activities. This was executed as a 5 day intensive training where both theoretical and applied sessions was given by the expert trainers of TOÇEV’s network. A total of 15 staff were chosen for this activity and most of them were psychologists and prison guards. This training has also been repeated through the end of Phase 2 of the project to evaluate the outcomes and covering the missing parts that have been observed in prisons. For the trainers, the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee made a selection with the following criteria.
Experience in working with disadvantaged groups:
• Experience in training
• Willingness to collaborate with NGOs at their work place

The following are the topics of the trainings performed by the psychologists and the TOÇEV team.
Topics of the trainings are as follows:
• Learning facilitation
• Group dynamics
• Coaching skills
• Anger management training
• Nonviolent communication training
• Personal development training

The outcome was 2 special trainings lasting for 5 days each impacting 15 prison staff, including psychologists, guardians and others.

Once Phase 3 of the project idea is fully operational we can scale up our impact from the 1020 mothers and 810 children trained during Phase 2 of the project.

Within 1 year we can reach a significant number of end-users and double the impact of the Born Free project idea on the no of mothers and children coached and trained in all the 7 Turkish prisons where we have been working over the past 3 years.