Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Tale of Two Continents: Turkey (June 17th-June 22nd)

After spending a few days with Kayla in Budapest before seeing her off to the U.S., it was time for the next chapter of my journey to begin. I arrived in Istanbul on June 17th to meet up with my good friend and fellow occupational therapist, Jenny Crandall. Jenny met me at the airport, which is located on the Europe side of Istanbul, and then we traveled by metro, tram, ferry and foot to our hostel on the Asia side. I was shocked at how quickly I liked Istanbul despite it's enormous size! While on the ferry, Jenny introduced me to my new addiction~Turkish Cay (a strong black tea drank with sugar and served in these little glasses without any handles).  
Because I arrived so late in the day, we decided to wait until the following afternoon to take the 5+ hour bus ride to Ankara. This also gave Jenny time to give me a quick tour of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.  We also visited the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts as they had a special exhibition on 17th-19th century Anatolian Kilims (rugs).

My first view of Istanbul~Europe and Asia

Crossing the Bosphorous

Turkish girls eating the Turkish version of an ice cream sandwich
Along the streets of Istanbul

Anatolian Kilims at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
17th-19th Century Kilim (rug)

Women from all over the world at the church in Ankara
 We arrived in Ankara on the 19th and have been staying with Norita and Ken Erickson, a couple who have lived in Turkey for 25+ yrs. Ken founded a wheelchair company called Kifas and Norita heads up Kardelen, the foundation Jenny and I are working with while we are here in Ankara. In the past Kardelen had a strong emphasis on working with abandoned children in the state orphanage; however, over the past year they have transitioned to serving the disabled in the community. While we are here Jenny and I will be going on home visits and providing some basic trainings and inservices. Kardelen also has a wonderful space for a multisensory room in their Streams of Mercy center. Jenny and I spent Monday sorting through and organizing equipment, and then went shopping with 2 of the Kardelen workers (Hulya and Gulsen) to find a few other needed things.  Finding simple items, such as bubbles and shoe laces, turned into a several hour shopping trip! On Friday we are scheduled to do an inservice for the Kardelen staff. I am excited to not only explain sensory processing, but also show how to implement techniques in their newly organized room.

This is Jenny's 4th trip to Turkey so it has been fun for her to show me around and introduce me to Turkish culture. I am so incredibly thankful to be here with her. On Sunday we visited Ankara Kalesi (Citadel) with Hassam, one of Kardelen's workers.  Walking through the inner streets of the citadel gave me my first taste of the day to day life of the poor in Ankara. But despite their poverty, their were smiles to be exchanged and laughing to be heard. The views from the top of the citadel were spectacular and definitely made the climb up the steep steps much deserved.

Turkish woman knitting purses

Ankara Kalesi (Citadel)

old residential area in the Citadel

Jenny and I at the top of the Citadel

Home Visits with Kardelen Team~ Yesterday Jenny and I accompanied Kardelen workers Serife and Delik, along with Dr Candy (a physician from South Africa) and Sibel (our translator) on a home visit on the outskirts of Ankara. Ferdi is a 26 year old with multiple disabilities who recently had to move to his aunt's home because his grandmother (his primary caregiver) passed away. Jenny and I were able to briefly assess his skills and then provide the family with training on transfers and feeding skills. Ferdi's aunt is very motivated and has taught him so much in only 3 months, he is truly blessed by his family's love and care.

Our first home visit in Ankara

Teaching feeding skills
Ankara Rehabilitation Hospital~On Monday we went to the rehab hospital to meet up with Necla to see Jafer, a man she is helping through Kardelen. Because we did not have approval to enter the hospital, our meeting occured in a garden adjacent to the hospital.  Jafer has multiple sclerosis, recently lost the ability to walk and is now having pressure wounds from the leg supports that the hospital made for him. He is to be released from the hospital this week, so Jenny and I are scheduled to do a home visit with him next week. After our visit to Jafer, Norita took us to the Ministry of Health to request a visit to the hospital. After 3 hours of running around, we were successful!
Yesterday we returned to the hospital and were given a tour of the rehab department.  We also had the honor of meeting 2 Turkish occupational therapists and getting to hear the positive steps Turkey is making to develop the profession of occupational therapy.
Occupational Therapists at the Ankara Rehab Hospital

Dawn, Jenny and Norita with Hilal, the hospital administrator
Occupational Therapy room at Ankara's Rehab Hospital

 Today we are off to do 2 more home visits and then tomorrow we will be providing in-services. Jenny and I would both covet your prayers that we would have great impact during our time here in Ankara.

Peace and Joy,


Debbie King said...

Amazing adventure and opportunities to have impact for His Kingdom. I am delighted to hear that OT is alive and well in Turkey. Such a blessing that you can bring your skills to these folks, and share on so many different levels. You are in my prayers.
Debbie King

The Learning Center said...

Dear Dawn

I am in charge of administration at The Learning Center in Istanbul. Please see our website I read your blog on meeting with a fellow OT in Istanbul and I am hoping that you would put Jenny Crandall in touch with us as we are looking for an English speaking part time therapist to work with us at the Center. I would appreciate it very much if you would pass our contact details found on our website to her and ask if she would please be in touch with us.
Thank you so much for your very interesting post on your visit to Turkey.

Carol and Cher