By Ece Ceren Dogar, IFRC

“The world is beautiful!” says Muhsine to Abdullah, her friend from Syria whom she calls her little brother. The two are deep in concentration, covering their paper with green and blue paint.

Later, they have more fun painting ceramics, showing off their drama skills and taking part in a music lesson with a difference – listening to the rhythms not with their ears, but with their eyes.

Muhsine, who is Turkish, and Abdullah, who is Syrian, are both hearing impaired. They are just two of 10 children who had the opportunity to attend a four-week “We listen to the world with our eyes” workshop.

Organised by Turkish Red Crescent’s EU-funded Şanlıurfa Community Centre and Şanlıurfa School of the Deaf, the workshop aimed to contribute to the personal and social development of the children and to ensure social cohesion by providing an environment that brings different cultures together.

Community Centre Cohesion and Activity Officer Gülşen Gürgerli Şimşek says the change in Abdullah, who arrived from Syria two years ago, is remarkable.

“We encountered Abdullah, who is both a migrant and hearing impaired, in one of our field visits. He lives in a crowded house of 25 people and had no opportunity to improve his personal and social development.”

“The first week he was timid but after that, he was just running to and fro and smiling all the time. This was a priceless outcome for us,” smiles Mrs Simsek.

There are more than 3.6 million Syrians in Turkey who are under temporary protection, of whom more than 1.7 million are children. An unknown percentage of these children suffer from hearing loss, which can exacerbate challenges adjusting to their host country.

Mrs Simsek says activities such as this workshop, and other social cohesion initiatives involving both migrants and host communities help to provide an environment which is supportive for overcoming difficulties.

Turkish Red Crescent Community Centres

Since 2015, Turkish Red Crescent Community Centres have been offering various services such as psychosocial support, protection, livelihoods support and social cohesion for migrants and host communities, with the aim of enabling a safer, more dignified and hopeful life. By the beginning of July 2019, the Community Centres had helped almost 800,000 people. For more information, please visit