Aynur Tekin / DUVAR
Self-isolation caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is triggering post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety for children living in the historic Sur district of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır since it reminds them of the curfews imposed in 2015.
Sur became a scene of violent clashes and human rights violations after the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) launched an operation against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in 2015, prompting authorities to impose a months-long curfew on the district on Dec. 2 of the same year.
Several neighborhoods in the district were erased from the map as a result of the clashes, which also caused Sur residents, especially children, to suffer from trauma.
Ezra Elbistan, the chair of the Colorful Hopes Association (Rengarenk Umutlar Derneği), a nongovernmental organization working to heal children aged 5 to 18 in Sur, noted that the isolation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak reminds local children of the said curfew.Study shows correlation between socioeconomic status and levels of self-isolation in Istanbul
“The first thing kids ask us on the phone is ‘What’s wrong outside?’ They’re worried that they’re not being told the whole truth,” Elbistan told Duvar.
The association started carrying out their work remotely on March 12, the day after Turkey reported its first coronavirus case, and are holding phone calls with 115 children with whom they plan to play music, act, make art and provide psychological counseling.
“They are scared and worry that they won’t be able to go outside again. They feel like they were severed from their schools and their friends," Elbistan said.
Because only 10 of the 115 kids had access to the internet, the association chose to reach households by phone to provide children counseling, as well as help their families.
“Therapists, pedagogues, health workers and musicians volunteered to create games to play with the families and conduct workshops about children’s rights,” Elbistan said.Self-isolation 'problematic' in Turkey's east, southeast, Interior minister says
The association will also launch a campaign on Fongogo to gather art supplies they need like scissors and paint.
“Aside from the campaign, we will be holding a teleconference between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. three days a week to read and tell fairytales. We will also hold game workshops and do psychosocial counseling with four age groups,” Elbistan noted, adding that the groups will be ages five and six, eight to 10, 10 to 12 and 12 to 15.
Elbistan hopes to eventually share their model of remote support with different NGOs.
“We hope to get this system to all children’s rights activists and to alleviate the issues caused by digital access inequality.”Search warrants to be issued for anyone violating COVID-19 isolation requirementsSelf-isolation 'problematic' in Turkey's east, southeast, Interior minister saysDomestic abuse reports rise in Turkey during coronavirus self-isolation