By Margaret Sheard ……

During a recent visit to the Karpaz for a previously arranged appointment, we took the opportunity of also meeting up with Eva Selwood who had contacted us regarding Çatom Koop, a women’s group which had been formed in Dipkarpaz by Arzu Pürtül.    We had a bit of difficulty in locating Eva’s house but suddenly found ourselves at the building from which Çatom Koop operates, so we stopped to talk to the ladies there, who made us very welcome.  We telephoned Eva and she soon arrived to greet us.

GAP Çatom is a Turkish innovation and is basically to give women an opportunity to pursue an interest in producing traditional handicrafts and foodstuffs as well as other items, and at the same time be able to earn something to help towards the individual family’s expenses.

Here is some information about the project:

The GAP Administration engaged in a range of projects that integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development through strategies for poverty alleviation and that focus on participatory approaches and capacity building for disadvantage groups from a gender perspective. One of the most important studies conducted in this regard, is Multi-Purpose Community Centres (ÇATOM) project.

ÇATOMs came in light from Social Action Plan which was prepared based on the findings of five basic research conducted in the years 1992-94 by GAP and “Women’s Status and Development Process Integration Research in the GAP Region”, which is one of the research, Action Plan was prepared based on the findings.

 ÇATOMs, was started in the region since 1995 and currently there are 44 centres in 9 provinces in the GAP region. ÇATOM’s target audience is young girls and women. So far 250,000 people have benefited from the project through direct ÇATOM programs. This number includes those who benefit from the ÇATOM program participants and health care and the number of common studies made at the level of neighbourhood / village was not included to total.

In Dipkarpaz we met Pakize Köse, Hatice Yildiz and Şűkran Durmuş and we were told that they were hoping to build up the group and they would welcome visitors to see the items for sale in their shop, and to sit and chat in the very pleasant surrounding area, where there are also handicraft items on display which have been made by the ladies.  While we were talking we all enjoyed a very nice glass of home-made limonata.  One of the ladies was in the process of knitting a stole with some very strange looking yarn.

Chris noted a framed picture on the wall of the shop and was told that the founder of the Dipkarpaz Çatom Koop visited Turkey to attend a festival of Çatom Koop at which President Erdoğan and his wife took time to speak with her at the Dipkarpaz stall at the event.

We then took Eva home and met her husband David and sat and chatted with them at their delightful traditional Turkish house.  Eva smiled as she told us her kitchen is now outside as the inside kitchen is in the throes of being refurbished.  Sure enough under a covered area there was the cooker and cupboards etc. and Eva was quite happy cooking outside during this very hot spell. Eva is German and her husband English, they lived in Wiltshire in the UK for many years before deciding to make their permanent home in the property they had purchased many years ago in Dipkarpaz and they love the area and the community they have joined.

Eva has been involved with the Dipkarpaz Çatom Koop for some years and she will be writing about this in more detail very soon.