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I am the founder and owner of çöp(m)adam

In 2004, I was a co-host of the International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE) in Istanbul:-) At that time, I was running a program for Civic Participation, required for all students at a Sabanci University in Istanbul. We learned to speak the local language, as it were, as we were working in a context where civic participation is not so common. We also learned to work from within the system, working to gain trust from civic, municipal or state organizations we were working with.

Currently my work focuses on offering opportunities to women who have previously not worked for salary, making cool and useful items out of throw-away materials - working within the system to foster changes.

I am still proud of my students who joined me in short-term projects in Southeastern Turkey, working to improve understanding of each other via hands-on involvement with local children, rather than academic research on how people may view each other.

I am also very proud of the more than 500 women who have taken the step to cross the threshold of our workshop - çöp(m)adam-, venturing into unfamiliar territory to learn to grow as an individual, subjecting themselves to criteria and having to learn new techniques, growing into more confident people who contribute to their families in ways they did not expect to.

It is some of the wonderful people in the IIPE Community who made me see my work as being connected to peace education! I started the Civic Involvement Projects program as I myself was a young activist and I saw many Turkish students wanting to become involved in civil society but not knowing how. That said, I started my current endeavor as I was burnt-out on too many aspects of my previous work and realized that I too needed to think more out-of-the-box. It took me a full year to come up with the concept of çöp(m)adam. I was very active in the women's movement here in Turkey and felt that more needed to be done to empower women from a grass-roots level. I also have always believed in individual responsibility to the environment and waste-generation!

The women who work for us keep me going as I have a responsibility to them. My right-hand employee will be eligible for retirement in 4 years, so I need to keep our doors open at least that long. While we have a good social model, business wise, we are often on the edge - like so many others under this broad umbrella. I have learned to reach out for assistance when I need it; I have learned to understand the value of self-care, so I make time for myself, and look after my own needs.