Frequently Asked Questions
Through our craft collective, scholarships program and supplemental education programs, SPI aims to offer practical support and a sense of belonging for families rebuilding their lives in Istanbul and beyond.
We aim to prevent the downward spiral into unemployment and poverty that curtailed education threatens to create for the so-called “lost generation” of Syria.
SPI primarily runs Turkish language classes for children and adults at its community education center, the Olive Tree Community Center in Çapa, Istanbul. We also offer English, including TOEFL practice, German and Arabic classes, as well as music, sport and art programs for children.
In addition, there is a women’s craft workshop, to develop skills among the women and enable them to earn an income to help support themselves and their families.
The SPI team is well-connected in the local Syrian community in Istanbul as many participants have come from Syria themselves, so they speak Arabic and work as community liaisons.
The founder, Karyn Thomas, lived in Damascus for several years and worked for a similar grassroots organization there before the war forced her to leave. The experience and relationships she built up during that time provided the basis for establishing SPI in Istanbul.
Now that we have been based in Çapa since the beginning of 2015, we have built up strong relationships and are well known and trusted in this community, where we have become a first point of contact for newly arrived families.
Over the past three years SPI has connected with hundreds of Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians in Istanbul, Kilis, and many now settled in Europe.
Currently, around 260 people from the Çapa community attend the weekly activities or have been enrolled in local schools through our scholarships program.