Young refugees in Turkey learn circus skills

Learning to juggle, walk on stilts and ride unicycles, young Syrians in Southeast Turkey cope with the trauma of the war

| | Humanitarian crises, War & Conflict, Human Rights, Middle East, Turkey

Mardin,Turkey – Mardin, a stunning ancient city on Turkey's border with Syria, has seen a massive influx of refugees since the war broke out in 2011. It is possible to see Syria from the rooftops of Mardin, which is about 100km from the border - a distance many refugees who fled to Mardin simply walked.

Research shows that children and young people are over-represented in refugee communities and the Syrians in Turkey are no exception. Among more than 2.7 million registered Syrian refugees in Turkey, fertility rates tend be high.

According to Human Rights Watch, there are more than 700,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey - 400,000 of whom miss school. One of the main obstacles facing these children is the linguistic barrier - as Turkish schools don’t have a curriculum in Arabic. While the Turkish government has been generous in its response to the refugee crisis, thousands of refugee children still have educational gaps - in a country that still qualifies as a developing economy.

But Art Anywhere Association, a Mardin-based organisation, has a different approach to minimising the language barrier and keeping children stimulated - a circus school.

Children can learn to juggle, walk on stilts, balance objects on their noses and spin hula-hoop without without the need of language skills.

Paradoxically, through such activities they socialise, learn languages faster and boost their self-confidence through public performances, which can aid their educational lives.

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