I left Istanbul behind for the children of the war

I left behind my city, Istanbul and my job 15 days ago. I have been working at GSK Turkey as Senior Corporate Communications Specialist for the past 5 years. While I enjoy my job I felt I needed to do something for the children affected by the Syrian crisis who I read about every day in the news and sometimes saw on the streets of Istanbul begging.

Hatay, Turkey

The Syrian crisis started in 2011 and gave way to escalating violence, turning into the terrible war we witness today. Millions of people have been affected, and millions have become internally displaced or refugees. Turkey opened its border to those people who needed to leave their homes due to the violence. These people have been living in our country since 2011 and they still try to adapt themselves Turkey’s lifestyle and conditions. Turkey is currently hosting the biggest refugee population in the world, with more than 3 million refugees within its borders.  As of September 2016, there are over 2.7 million Syrians refugees registered in Turkey and 52% of this refugee population is under the age of 18.

Numbers do not always translate to mean very much on a human level and while I watched the the news on TV or read the newspapers, I felt disconnected from the unfolding human tragedy. That all changed one day when I encountered a young Syrian mother begging for money on a busy road She was holding her baby and trying to ask for money, she didn’t speak my language and I didn’t speak her. I saw fear in her eyes. I had never come face to face with a Syrian refugee.. After that day, I thought about her regularly and those who must stuck in similarly difficult situations. I wanted to do something for her but I didn’t know what to do. There, I met the volunteering project in GSK named PULSE. Let me explain what PULSE is. The PULSE Volunteer Partnership is a skills-based volunteering initiative. Through PULSE, eligible employees are matched to a non-profit organisation for three or six months full-time, contributing their skills to solve healthcare challenges at home and abroad. The PULSE programme enables for GSK employees to work full-time with non-profit organisations to support with their professional expertise and knowledge for the good of the organisation and society.

Yes I’m a volunteer in PULSE and will work for Save the Children as a Private Sector Liaison as secondment for 3 months. Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In Turkey as well as around the world, they work every day to give children a healthy start in their lives, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.

ceylan-kalyon_-hatay-assignment2My current tasks with this NGO are; to improve partnerships with the private sector and another external stakeholders, and support external communications strategies. I have a background in communication; I have skills such as creating communication strategy, social media management and corporate social responsibility. I have moved to live in another city in southern Turkey and there is a war still going on close to where I live now…


Beside that I have a chance to support people, especially children who affected from war. I’ll engage with them face to face.

Altinozu/ Hatay, Turkey

I think this will an incredible experience for the rest of my life. I believe the butterfly effect; change one thing, change everything and I’m ready for the change.

Ceylan Kalyon, Hatay

#Refugees #childrenofwar #Turkey #Volunteering #CeylanKalyon


  1. Lovely post. Be the change! Bless you for undertaking the PULSE challenge. It is certainly a trying time for many across our planet. Be safe, Jeanette

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