“Children first”: A cultural association for children in Amed

This report was published by ANF English on 13 March, 2021

The “Children First” association in Amed works to ensure that the Kurdish language and culture are passed on to the new generations. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the association is still active, and children from many countries join online.

The association “Children First” (Komeleya Berî Her Tiştî Zarok) was founded in 2017 in Amed. The purpose of the association is to promote the psychosocial, cultural, linguistic, intellectual and physical development of children. Cevahir Sadak Düzgün is the chair of the association and commented on the work and the projects.

Above all, the association wants to promote cultural projects, said Düzgün, adding: “Our goals include the protection of language and culture. Since the city council was seized and a state-appointed trustee named in 2016, many activities have been restricted. There is no longer any room for the Kurdish language and culture. We want to revive culture and literature in society. The Kurds have no official status in their cities and receive no institutional support. They are threatened with extinction. Our association is committed to ensuring that the Kurdish culture and language are passed on to the new generations.”

Düzgün poined out that “according to estimates, half of the forty million total Kurds are under 15. Alienation from their own culture is very difficult for children; they develop a distance from society if they do not grow up with their own language and culture. The association has made it its task to remedy this shortcoming and to familiarize children with their language and culture.”

Language lessons and music

Düzgün added: “We mainly deal with the topics of culture, art, children’s rights, ecology, gender equality, science and technology, language and sport. Many activities have been stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic, but we are still active. We tried to continue our work online and we were successful. For example, we offer an online workshop where children learn to write fairy tales. We made a comic out of the fairy tales written by the children.

Kurdistan is made up of four parts and Kurdish children are scattered around the world. They cannot exercise their right to language and culture. That is why we also offer language courses. In cooperation with MA Müzik, we have started an educational program that teaches the Kurdish language through music. The program is still running and children from many countries around the world as well as from Kurdistan and Turkey are taking part.”

Collective production of natural toys

The association not only works with children, but also offers workshops for women. “Women often give up their own lives to make the lives of their children easier. Before the pandemic, the children came to the association for courses and their mothers waited for them in front of the building. That’s why we also decided to offer courses for women. We had workshop to make toys by hand. The toys correspond to the Kurdish culture. Commercial toys are plastic and sexist, they harm children. We wanted to do something about that. The toys made by the women are made of natural material and we give them Kurdish names. We started this work with eight or nine women, and now 62 women are taking part in it. We carry out a collective work.”