When Social Cohesion Goes Green

On June 6th, in Southeastern Türkiye, a group of 12 young RET beneficiaries from the town of Viran?ehir implemented a social cohesion project in our Safe Spaces for girls in Süleymaniye and Büyükyol. The project raised awareness on environmental issues and recycling, while also providing common purpose and action, which in turn strengthens social cohesion. It was inspired by the World Environment Day (celebrated each year on June 5th) and reached a total of 102 beneficiaries, of which 40 girls from the Süleymaniye Safe Space and 62 girls from the Büyükyol Safe Space.


The project was designed collaboratively by the Centre’s Liaison Officer and the group of 12 young beneficiaries, composed of master trainers and the peers they had trained. They drew on their observations regarding how waste is considered and managed by the adolescents and youth coming to RET’s youth club or attending our Turkish language training. The idea was then conveyed to our Safe Spaces Project Leader and was quickly adopted, as the realisation grew that children, girls and young women in the Centres lacked this information and awareness.

Therefore, RET’s Viran?ehir team decided to implement this environmentally inspired social cohesion project as a life skills session given by their peer groups to the beneficiaries of RET’s Safe Spaces of Süleymaniye and Büyükyol. The team of 12 youth, which had carried the project from the beginning, were supervised and guided by the Life Skills Facilitator and the Centre Liaison Officer during the planning and implementation of the project. They also came to Süleymaniye and Büyükyol and trained young women and girls in the Safe Spaces.

More concretely, the project had two main components: a theoretical presentation on recycling and waste management, followed by activities to put this theory into practice.

The theoretical presentation was created and provided by RET’s Centre Liaison Officer of Viran?ehir, who has a background in environmental engineering. Of course, the 12 master trainers and peer beneficiaries were there to assist her. This was, then, reviewed by the Project Leader of the Youth Programme to ensure the highest quality standards.

This presentation covered a range of technical issues, in order to be sure to offer a wide view of recycling:

  • Definition of recycling
  • Introduction of recyclable materials
  • Duration of dissolution of wastes from several categories in nature
  • Ways of recycling (with a special emphasis on paper and cartons)
  • Materials that are not thrown into the waste box
  • Plastic materials and derivatives
  • Glass materials
  • Metals
  • The role of human beings in recycling and actions to be taken
  • The results of positive actions taken by us, as human beings, on our planet

Presentation materials, prepared by the master trainers and their peer beneficiary team during the social cohesion trainings, illustrated the duration of dissolution of waste in nature category by category.

After all this theory, it was then time to dive into concert action. Therefore, during the second part of this life skills session, all this theoretical knowledge was put into practice by learning how to create useful and artistic materials out of waste. The girls in the safe spaces prepared, for example, toys made of toilet papers, plastic glasses and juice boxes.


These life skills sessions on environmental awareness and recycling were found to be not only interesting and fun, but also very useful. The participants mentioned how it broadened their horizon and gave them a vision on how to consider waste and the recycling of waste though creative and environmentally friendly activities and skills.

To make the impact of the sessions even more durable, recycling boxes were distributed to the centres to allow them to keep in mind and apply their new knowledge on a day-to-day basis.

This programme has been brought to life thanks to the funding of various donors, including RET International proprietary funds, UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund), UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund), and various government and private donors.