SPI Wall Of Love

To all of you who supported this community and all its projects since the very beginning and until this moment, thank you so much deeply from all of us here at SPI. This page represents a wall of memories where you can leave a message to be read by our current and future audience. All of you who support SPI and the refugees,  the displaced and those in need in Istanbul and beyond; you’re welcome to leave a memory on this wall. Click here to submit your own.


Anna Tuson

SPI Core Team

Norwegian Refugee Council

01/09/14 - 30/11/16

Hometown: Waihi, New Zealand

comm director badge Former social enterprise director badge

A journalist by trade, Anna has covered social and political issues worldwide, including the Syrian crisis. Anna worked as communications manager at SPI and she coordinated partnerships, funding and advocacy. She was also the first project manager of the Olive Tree Craft Collective which later became our women’s social enterprise project. 

Megan Behn


01/08/16 - 01/07/18

Hometown: Iluka NSW 2466, Australia


Back in 2016 SPI was working out of a small basement in Capa. It wasn’t much but it was a cosy space with a work area for the craft collective, a small kitchen, office and a playroom that was lovingly decorated with donated books and toys. It was eventually decided that I’d help out with childcare at the centre.

The mothers dropped off their children in the playroom and began work in the craft collective next door. I wasn’t sure what to do or expect at first, but I thought it was important that the kid’s just had fun.

Between the playing and the colouring I got to know other volunteers from Syria and all over the world and talk about their experiences. Some days were harder than other days and at the end of the session we were always exhausted. But when the mums picked up their kids sometimes I’d get a shy ‘thank you’ in English and a little smile and it made my heart full.

Merit Küppers


01/10/17 - 29/06/18

Hometown: Berlin, Germany

Small Projects Istanbul in Fatih does remarkable work for all these people that have lost their homes, families, friends, and that warm feeling of security and is able to give back a small part of that.
SPI offers activities ranging from computer classes over cooking lessons to homework club and those are not just providing a sense of belonging, of routine and normality, but what’s more, children and adult participants can acquire useful skills and get ready to have a shot at a better future.

marta modeling for SPI

Marta Pahíno Estévez

Community Ambassador

The Passport Memorandum

02/03/18 - 29/09/18

Hometown: Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain

Raised 1500$ for SPI Programs and Modeled for SPI Products

Small Projects Istanbul was one of the firsts NGOs I spotted when I started looking for social projects in Istanbul, and it immediately caught my attention. As a woman, I was especially captivated by their “Social Enterprise Project,” which empowers women to be independent through their work and helps them take control of their lives despite tragic circumstances. On top of that, they have amazing programs established that help kids, teenagers, and families get back on their feet and integrate into a new culture without losing their roots. Within a couple of months, we were able to organize an event that over 100 people attended. We had a fun and special evening with the help of generous dancers, actors, performers, a DJ, a solidarity market, and monitors for the children.


Alex Aston Ward


Hometown: Brighton, UK


I’ve volunteered at SPI in 2015 and 2016 . I taught English, worked to raise funds, ran sports activities and organised social events for the volunteers. The community at SPI quickly became my closest friends and have made these the most rewarding 2 years.

Keely Bakken


Hometown: Washington, DC, USA

I began volunteering at SPI while pursuing graduate studies in Turkey. I helped out with child care and translation before becoming involved in the language lessons provided at the community center. I taught intermediate Turkish to a group of young Syrians for a couple hours every week for four months. The students are amazing- dedicated, hard working, and a joy to teach. I will always remember our classes and wish them and everyone else at SPI the best! The work this organization does is truly meaningful and inspiring, and I hope to continue to be of help from the U.S.

Shahla Raza


Yusra Community Center

Hometown: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

I moved to Turkey from India to work on refugee and displacement issues as a filmmaker and artist. I first worked in Antakya and have now been involved with various refugee assistance activities in Istanbul for three months, and then volunteered with Small Projects Istanbul. I am very encouraged by the kind of work that SPI is doing with the women and children displaced by the war, who are trying to rebuild their lives. I  contributed in any way that I could – helping with the women’s collective, brainstorming on ideas, admin work, teaching art to the children, playing football, skipping rope, anything that can make life a little better for people who have suffered tremendous hardships to escape war and move to a new country hoping for a better life.

Sara Fawcett


Hometown: London, UK

I worked with Small Projects Istanbul offering music workshops to groups of children from 4-13 years of age. I am thrilled to be able to draw on my professional skills as a pianist to bring general musicianship skills to this group of amazing children. It was an opportunity to expose them to the beauty and fun of creating music together. I was excited to be part of the SPI team, bringing music education to children who would otherwise have little opportunity to learn musical notation and perhaps even have the chance to learn to play an instrument.

Leeann Murphy


Hometown: Sydney NSW, Australia

After visiting Syria in 2010 and being so warmly welcomed by the Syrian people, I felt the need to give back and volunteer with SPI to support Syrian refugees in Istanbul – the city I have lived for more then five years. I’m an Australian freelance writer with a background in project management in the fields of public health, community development and construction. I was a member of the SPI committee and volunteered with them whenever I could – from assisting with grant applications to keeping children entertained whilst their mothers participate in The Olive Tree Craft Collective. I simply believe everyone has the right to be safe, happy, healthy and connected to the community they live in, and the like-hearted community involved in SPI share these values. It’s a grassroots project I am very proud to support.

Sima Gadhirzadeh


Hometown: Tehran, Iran


Volunteering for SPI since May 2015 has brought new meaning and motivation to my personal and professional life. I think contributing by providing learning opportunities for our neighbors who are the victims of other people’s wars is the least we can do to make a change, however small, in some of their lives. We might never be able to eliminate war from human life forever but we can at least stay aware that we are also responsible for the lives of others on this planet and try to play a positive role in their lives whenever possible. I will always remain grateful that SPI provided this opportunity for me.

Bal Polat



Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey

I have been a volunteer for SPI since September 2015, teaching Turkish to Syrian women. In this short time period, I can genuinely say that they have helped me a lot about understanding and explaining myself and other things. Displacement is extremely difficult for all human beings but I feel like children and women experience it in a harder way. Being with women and trying to help them in a way, gives me huge motivation!

Mustafa Ghashim


Hometown: Aleppo, Syria

I’m an automation control engineer, graduated from Aleppo University, and I have volunteered with organizations offering education and psycho social support including Hayat, Mobaderoon and EIEA in Syria. I also participated in the Peace Ambassadors project, where I was able to support youth groups in launching local peace initiatives and I facilitated in a values learning journey building trust and sustaining understanding between the different identities in our communities. Social volunteering work is my passion and when I came to Istanbul, I started looking for social organizations to work with and found SPI, where I really enjoy being a member.

Ayob Doghouz


Hometown: Damascus, Syria

After I graduated from Damascus University and started my career as an English language teacher, I started to become aware that I like teaching little children. After a while I realized that when dealing with little kids you have to see life from their perspective and that one should always look for the bright side of life as well in order to catch moments of happiness as much as possible. Being in Turkey for more than two years, I have tried to help the people of my home country, Syria, and found in the end that teaching kids as a volunteer is a good thing to do. I enjoy being a member of SPI and I wish I had more time to help in other activities.

Saleh Al-Nakdali


Hometown: Homs‎, Syria

Originally from Homs, Syria, I’ve been in Istanbul since August 2015 undertaking my MBA at Istanbul Aydın University. I’ve been an active member of SPI since September 2015, participating in the TOEFL preparation and conversation support classes run every Sunday night in Capa. I also volunteer as a community liaison and program assistant in the co-ordination of SPI’s school sponsorship program. The way in which I’m able to both give and receive within the SPI community reflects the underlying aim of the organization to both support the Syrian community in Istanbul and empower them to support themselves.