This week Amazon Türkiye celebrated the opening of the ‘Smiling Dreams Community House’ in one of the regions most affected by the February earthquake, Antakya district of Hatay, together with local communities, charity partners, and children living in the area. The Community House is a continuation of Amazon’s efforts to provide relief in the aftermath of the devastating impact of the earthquake that struck Türkiye and Syria in early February.
‘Smiling Dreams Community House’ is a multi-faceted and multi-stakeholder project, launched in cooperation with a local charity partner in Türkiye, Be A Partner to My Dream Community, and with the support of the Civic Space Action Network (SAHA) operating in Hatay. The Community House will act as a support centre for the communities living in the area, and will provide STEM education for children, therapy and psychosocial support sessions for people of all ages, aiming to contribute to the post-trauma recovery processes of individuals affected by the disaster.
‘Coding My Dream’ with children in Hatay
The Community House’s ‘Coding My Dream’ training, which started in April 2023 in Aegean Türkiye in cooperation with Amazon Türkiye and Be a Partner to My Dream Community, provides students with the necessary educational tools and coding training to gain STEM skills. The workshops, which will be provided face-to-face by volunteers from Amazon Türkiye and Be a Partner to My Dream Community, aims to help students in the region gain 21st Century skills and support their academic success.
In addition to the coding workshops, the Community House will support the development of children and young people through art and music therapy-based programmes, dance, movement and body awareness activities, group games, and educational support programmes. In addition, individual and group psychosocial support sessions, wellbeing sessions for educators, community meetings and online counselling sessions are also among the services to be provided at the centre.
Sustainable Community House supports local economy
The ‘Smiling Dreams Community House’ consists of a modular wooden structure produced entirely by local producers in Hatay. The Community House provides high thermal insulation thanks to its natural building materials and is built in line with passive air conditioning principles.
The Civic Space Action Network (SAHA), a civil initiative initiated by aid workers and people with expertise in various fields who have been working in the earthquake zone since the first days of the disaster, aims to produce alternative solutions by using local resources and to strengthen local initiatives and actors. It aims to provide a common living, socialising and working space for individuals, grassroots organisations and institutions operating in the field to interact with each other and produce more localised, holistic and sustainable solutions with measurable impact.
Speaking at the opening of the Community House, Atakan Atalar, Founder of Be a Partner to My Dream Community, underlined that this project is an important step to making the dreams of children and young people in Hatay come true: "As part of the Be a Partner to My Dream Community, we have supported the relief efforts in the earthquake-affected regions since the first day. We are launching our 'Smiling Dreams' project with great excitement in Hatay's Antakya district in order to carry the lives of our children and young people affected by the disaster to a brighter future.
“The ‘Smiling Dreams Community House’ that we are establishing in the earthquake zone will not only be a physical place but also a community house full of hope. Here, children and young people will discover their inner painter, musician, dancer, software developer and leader while learning coding with 'Coding My Dream'. With the ‘Smiling Dreams Community House’, we aim to support the emotional, social and psychological well-being of our children and youth affected by the disaster, as well as adults, and contribute to their post-trauma recovery processes. We will continue to work with all our strength to create a sustainable and lasting impact with 'Smiling Dreams', which we have implemented in cooperation with local and national non-governmental organisations and volunteers working in the region since the first day of the earthquake."
Richard Marriott, Amazon Türkiye Country Manager, who came together with project stakeholders, members of the press, and the people of the region at the opening of the ‘Smiling Dreams Community House’, said: "The earthquakes that occurred in February caused us all to grieve. As Amazon, we have supported and continue to support the efforts and the people of the region with all our local and global means since the first day.
“In the first days of the disaster, we supported the institutions and NGOs working in the field with financial and in-kind donations, and we also participated in the Earthquake Relief Campaign coordinated by the Ministry of Commerce and offered opportunities to make it easier for our customers to donate to those in need and NGOs. We also organised online donation campaigns in 16 Amazon stores around the world by taking advantage of our global network. We also supported disaster logistics management in the field by assigning expert Amazon employees to the region under the coordination of the Ministry of Family and Social Security.
“Today, I am very happy to be at the opening of the ‘Smiling Dreams Community House’, which we have been meticulously preparing for months to make our support much more long-term. Seeing the smiles of children and young people who benefit from the Community House is a priceless feeling for us.”