Make an End of Child Labor: Experience of the Young Girls’ Home

The two prominent negative effects of the going out the work of the children are the loss of health and success in education. Fişek Institute firstly focused on the health problems of the working children. A model built in order to serve health services for them both in the work places and in the Apprenticeship Training Centers. The studies are ongoing.
Then the Foundation is struggling for the children, in line for working, to prevent them to get disconnected from education and accordingly to go to work. Because of the fact that to want and to wish for them are not enough to make them continue to the school. They need a “warm and silent” place to study and volunteers to support them for their lectures. Sometimes, small amount of money may be unaffordable for them.
In the Young Girls’ Home, the attention and love shown to the girls improve their self-confidence and their consciousness of individuate. The higher their grade in school gets, the more they excite their anticipation from the life and the more hopeful their families become. The mothers’ participation into the production and earning side income affect the standards of living of both the mothers and their husbands.
The experience of the Young Girls’ Home is a study which should be maintained by the girls throughout their educational life. In other words, there is no sense unless the studies are maintained. Fişek Institute has been maintaining the study of serving health and social services to the working children for 23 years and proved its success.
This project helped the young girls stay away from both the work life and early marriage. The increasing marriage age and continuation of the working life of newly married women led and will lead a decrease in the number of working children. In addition with education and having less babies than their mothers have, the new generations will want to serve their children more then they experienced thanks to the Young Girls’ Home.
Make an end to child labor is a really accurate target. However, it is not be forgotten that it’s the result of the social necessity. While trying to reach this target, the root problems should be solved. The Young Girls’ Home, contributing both the young girls and their mothers, tried to get rid of “the economic and social necessity underlying cause of the child labor”.

At the Heart of the Concept of “Urban Home”; “Young Girls’ Home” Model

Prof. Dr. A. Gürhan Fişek

It’s presented at 7.Congress on Child Living and Working on the Street (November 7-9, 2008, Şanlıurfa)

The answer of the question of “What is the place where children belongs to?” is simple. Even if a child is asked, he will say “We all know that. It’s his home together with his mother and father”. When we look at the life, the answer of this question is not that simple but changes with different factors. However, these “realities” don’t differentiate our responsibilities. We have to make “the children” be at peace with his home, mother and father. “At peace” here fits properly. Because the problem is at the same time the key for our country to be able to live “in peace” today and in future.

The other simple question is “Is the place that the children have to spend most of their time “street”?. The answer will be received as “No, it’s not. It’s school.”. However, when we look at the life, the answer of this question is again not that simple. The discussion should be made wide range of topics starting from “the education”, until the concepts of “the opportunities” and “spare time”.

The society doesn’t have the luxury to wait for the implementation of the government for this important topic which is highly related with itself. Because of the fact that “the peace” and “the children” are the topics which are highly related with the society and whose effects are deeply felt. So, non-governmental organizations have to create new models in order to make the problems arose from this topics easily understood and contribute for the resolutions of the problems and have to try to understand the problem deeply and to define the “obstacles” clearly to make the likes show up.

The model study that I would like to present today is still maintained it’s 5. academic year(1). Before anything else, we would like to express our thanks to our volunteers and the inhabitants of Ankara-Türközü-Boztepe Neighborhood who sincerely welcome our “Young Girls’ Home’.

The concept of “Urban Home” underlies the “Young Girls’ Home” Model (2). We have to discuss internalization of “being from the city” and “contemporary values” in a broad perspective starting from traditional values to contemporary values and also to the values that is imposed by the “Globalism”.

We also need to discuss and implement the project, which is produced by Prof.Dr.Orhan Cavit Tütengil in 1969s but has still not been implemented, “We need to explain the people who migrate from rural to urban the difference from “to be from the city and live in the city”(3).

Our volunteers, during their studies in the neighborhoods of Ankara in which low income families live, came across with the young girls who left their 8-year compulsory primary education. Wearing their school uniforms, they were ready to run to school at the moment of investigation but still take care of their younger siblings and housework.

Also, our volunteers came across with the young girls and women who have never seen outside from their neighborhood. They have never been in not only Kızılay or Ulus (city centers) but also the end of their neighborhood. How can they know their rights and the horizon which is expanded by these rights. They don’t even know their own cities. How can they know the world is limitless?

Being from the city is not living in the city. Living in the city enables citizens to make the most of the city. The differences of the advantages of the city and the ones in rural is that the ones in rural is given by nature but the ones in city is created by human beings. The ones given by nature is limited. They may be affected from natural events, decrease, increase and also disappear. The ones in city is created by human but the access is limited. The limit is also created by people. The struggle that must be made is for the largest advantage package can be possessed by all; making the sharing fair.

These shows us that each people from the city can not reach all advantages of the city. The more advantages he can reach, the more he will be counted as the one from the city. Still, there are some conditions to reach the advantages:

1. You have to know that it is an advantage. For instance; Electricity. If you have never met with the electricity, you can’t know what the household appliances, used thanks to electricity, bring you.

2. Then, you need to know how can you find this advantage. If you need a medicine, you need to go to doctor at first and then the pharmacy.

3. There are so many advantages which look like and substitute each other that you need to “compare” and “choose”. Gambling is entertaining, also sports. You need to distinguish the differences and choose to stay away from some entertainments.

4. It’s not enough to know an advantage. You need to desire and decide it freely and without prejudice. Isn’t marriage is the same? Marriage is an advantage for who select the one she loves. While doing it, the couple decide to get married reciprocatively.

5. It’s not enough to know and desire for an advantage, you have to acquire it. For instance, you may know that the book is an advantage but in order to acquire it you need to have money or to know how to go to the library.

6. Via creating new advantages, citizens have to increase the options for themselves and others. They have to contribute for the advantage pool so that there appears a bigger pool which also brings them a share

However, we have a problem: the “Globalization”, which penetrate us today, is “sharing challenged”. It envisages gathering of the advantages by a small number of people in center, taking the troubles by the rest of millions of people and it achieves it.

The word “advantage” can also be replaced with the “human rights”. These are the rights gained from being human. The deprivation of education is the basic indicator which shows that human rights can not used. We also witness the “sharing challenged” approach of globalization in terms of “access to education”.

To be able to be from the city necessitates to know how to reach the advantages created by citizens. Since then, the right to be educated can not only be handled in terms of literacy. The topic of education must be based on improvement and maturation of the personality. The understanding of all other rights depends on it. As long as it’s not known, implemented, became prominent, the rights are not useful for anyone.

In 1968, a philosopher says; “While dwelling on the right to be educated in terms of the fulfillment and implementation of the human rights, to think about the half of the people in the world are still deprived of their basic rights, in other words they renounce their rights to be human beings; although exist in the world, they live outside of the world in which exist and lie within the loneliness and darkness; that they will not contribute for themselves, the society, improvement and development of the society and also they go for nothing except being a burden are the grim reality and terrible disaster of our age(4).”

There a lot of people who don’t know not only the immensity of the world, but also the city they live in and the advantages exist in the city.

It’s not possible for voluntary organizations to overcome this huge problem on their own. However, there is a potential to enlighten and try to remain standing via coming together. There is a potential, like their parents who showed courage to turn the lights on, to encourage the children trying to get rid of the “darkness”.

Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child concludes as follows:

“The child must be brought up in the consciousness that its talents must be devoted to the service of its fellow men. (1924)

It’s not possible for the ones who are brought up in the light of these principles to stand idle with hands tied in the area of humanly created advantages are shared such an unfair way. It can not be remained unresponsive for the “dependent” and “hopeless” lives of the people who are subsidized, like alms, to make them keep living but are kept away from the other advantages.

Going out the work of the child rescues the family in the first and hard days of the migration of the family to the city, during difficult times, the unemployment period of the father. It can be described as an economic necessity and a life saver. Except from these periods, the families who see no harm to send the children to work and suppose that they are not damaged physically and spiritually, came among the low income group. That’s why the children of the families with low income give the same answer for the question “Why are you working?”: “In order to contribute my family”. It’s generally not true, especially for boys. Unsuitableness of the family budget to send the boys to the vocational high school or university and the belief of the education will ease to find a job are canalized the boys, during their early ages, to begin to work to shape their future. That is to say, the main incentive is the motive to acquire a profession at early ages.

However, it’s widely thought that the girls don’t need to acquire a profession. They will get married as soon as possible, give birth and take care of them. These necessitate to make them stay at home(or do housework) or start to go out the work at early ages but temporarily. The work of the girls is totally economic and they give all the money they earn to their families. The pin money of the young girls comes from the overtime and the ones that they hide from their families. At this point, girls have two options;

1.Continue to work and not leave the job even if they get married: In this case, they get stuck, with limited occupational knowledge, in the limited occupational environment.

2.Become a permanent and qualified labor item in work life: To achieve it, girls have to study and try to acquire the highest qualifications. At this stage, they will have a range of job opportunity.

Our young girls are the “life(guards) savers” of the society. As long as they stay away from the work life, the society stay deprived of half of its power. Since then, we need to bring up the girls like we do the boys.

In the light of these thoughts, our Young Girls’ Home experience is a necessity off our social responsibility. It’s the product of the thoughts for the girls, as the ones who stay in unequal position in terms of reaching education, to maintain their formal education, to participate the work life in their early ages and to keep them away from getting married until they grow up. This product, as not being a vocative which stays the level of discourse like the Girls’ Education Campaign in Turkey, makes efforts to make them not only to study but also to be “free, self-confident, hard-working, single-minded and careerist”.

We, on the 6. month of our study in Boztepe, asked the young girls: “Why are you here?”. They answered:

  • It’s warm,

  • It’s silent,

  • We are shown interests and exhibited love.

  • There are computers,

  • There is library(5).

We all have to take lessons from these answers. The girls, who are not let to go the internet cafes but are, by their teachers, given homework which necessitates internet and who can not imagine a library with 2000 books, do want “a warm, silent and affectionate” place. The essence of the young girls home is devoted to meet the requirements. The others are of secondary importance:

  • After school, the students run breathlessly through short cuts to the Home with great eagerness. Moreover; the group of girls, who come to the Young Girls’ Home on Fridays, ask permission from teachers to deploy closely to the doors on the flag raising ceremony in order to come to the Home earlier.

  • Firstly; “feeding time” composed of cake and fruits and talking shortly about the order of the day,

  • Then; thanks to our volunteers help, lecture reviews, do tests and examine the false answers,

  • If they have time, computers and games(if they don’t have, they need to wait for the holiday),

  • Once a week, they select “young girl of the week” among themselves. The girl who speaks deliberately, pays attention to the relations with others and obeys the rules of good manners is chosen by her friends. At first, they chose their own selves but now they use more objective criteria for the election of young girl of the week. It can also be evaluated as democracy training.

  • The home, maybe, called as “Young Girls’ and their Mothers’ Home”. Because the mothers of the young girls are also the elements of the composition. They are given to handiwork to contribute them economically. We open communication channels for them to consult when they have troubles and organize interviews and celebrate the 8 March, International Women’s Day.

  • We organize trips, for mothers and girls, to the city center. We go to theatres. We visited the Ataturk’s Monumental Tomb and its museum. We organized picnics at Atatürk Orman Çiftliği, Zoo, Gölbaşı Park and Lozan Park.

One of the most important element of the “Young Girls’ Home” Model is maintenance. This is valid both for us and for the young girls. We have never disrupted our study due to the weather conditions. In addition to that, we have never took kindly their disruptions with the reasons like “neighbor visit”, “dull ache” or “oversleep” and never let them to fall behind from the program of the home but have always supervised for their studies. In addition to these challenges, we have tried to share the wealth of the city life within the bounds of possibility.

In the 4. year of our study in Boztepe, we asked to our young girls “What is being from the city?”. The diversity of the answers shows that the young girls’ home function as an urban home. Our young girls are aware of everything:

  • The city is wealthiness. In city, there exist everything we want: toys, parks, play grounds etc.

  • There are many institutions in city to get benefit from: School, health center, hospital, pharmacy, post office, market etc..

  • Staying in the city doesn’t make the one “someone from the city”.

  • Being from the city is to be able to watch culture and art studies.

  • Being from the city is freedom.

  • Being from the city is to have rights and responsibilities.

  • Being from the city is to obey the rules.

  • Being from the city is to obey the rules of good manners. It’s to speak gently and be dapperness.

  • Being from the city is to be tolerant and be respectful to others’ thoughts.

  • Being from the city is is to read.

These are all sentences of the young girls’. We feel hopeful about our young girls. They are conscious of both their rights and responsibilities. Their success in their lectures and the responses of the teachers shows us that many of them will become successful women among them. There are many hills like Boztepe in every city and millions of children living on the hills. Are we, bourgeois, aware of the fact that they also have right “to be from the city”,namely “right to live humanly”? More importantly, how many of them can come into action?

When we ask our young girls; “How many of these among you have mentioned can you reach here in Boztepe?”; they answer “Few of them”. But they are decided. Become educated, like others, we will also take all the benefits of the city. Then, some of them repeat a slogan they have learnt from TV “We are children, we are human, we will get a fair shake”.

They will achieve what the elders could not manage to achieve. In order to be confident about the future; today, we need to work a lot.




(2) Fişek A.Gürhan : Kentli Evi Kavramının Kurumsallaştırılması, Çalışma Ortamı Dergisi, Temmuz Ağustos 2001, Sayı : 57 s.19

(3) Tütengil Cavit Orhan : Türkiye’de Köy Sorunu, 1969.

(4) Tuncel Bedrettin : Eğitim Görme Hakkı, “İnsan Hakları” içerisinde, UNESCO Türkiye Milli Komisyonu Yayını, 1969 s.47.

(5) Fişek Oya : Genç Kız Evimiz Şehre Tepeden Bakar, Çalışma Ortamı, Mart Nisan 2005, Sayı : 79 s.14. (www.genckizevi-haber.php)