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May 04, 2011

Dear Friends-

Turkey is one of the world's fastest growing economies. However, just as in India, only a minority of people are benefiting from the economic development. There is a vast divide between the resources available for Turkish people in large urban centers and those living in remote, rural regions. It is through one of these rural areas- Cappadocia - that the Relief Riders International Turkish Relief Ride begins June 17th, 2011.

To design humanitarian programs for our Cappadocia Relief Ride we took our experience from India and reformulated the programs to be of most use to those in rural Turkey. We chose to focus on education and emergency dentistry

The latest UNICEF data shows that 83% of girls in Turkey complete primary school (93% of boys complete primary school) and only 43% of girls and 52% of boys regularly attend secondary school. These rates are very similar to those in India even though Turkey is considered much more developed. In many rural areas the schools can't handle more children due to a lack of facilities and teachers, some classrooms house over 100 children with one teacher. Large numbers of children are involved in child labor and girls often marry before they complete secondary school.

The RRI 2011 educational program in Turkey will combine two elements, 1) providing immediate developmental resources for children and 2) developing long term plans for keeping children in school longer. Our immediate help comes in the form of play!

O. Fred Donaldson said "Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn." Many studies have concluded that play is the most important developmental experience any child can engage in. Through active, outdoor, play children develop their motor abilities, build strong bodies, increase their confidence and learn to regulate their energy. Playing in a safe space with other children gives kids practice at language skills, collaboration, negotiation, conflict resolution, persistence and empathy.

Children in many rural villages in Cappadocia don't have access to safe places to play with their peers. Children have to make do with running in the streets and climbing dangerous, broken down buildings. Riders on the June Cappadocia Relief Ride will have the opportunity to build a safe outdoor playgroup for selected villages along the ride route.

The World Health Organization keeps statistics on how many bad teeth are found in children in various countries. This, as well as a needs assessment tour last summer, helped us to see that access to basic dentistry in rural Turkey is a problem with which we could help. Out of 190 countries Turkey was ranked at 135th worst (India at 171st and the US at 51st) in terms of bad teeth in 12 year olds. There are qualified dentists in larger urban areas, but for people in more remote areas the cost of traveling there is prohibitive. Our Turkish Dental Programs will bring qualified Turkish dentists to screen people in their local village then provide those patients with transportation to RRI's designated Dental Clinic. The focus will be on helping people create a lasting relationship with a local dentist to maintain their dental health.

We still have some spaces left and hope you will consider joining us on what promises to be a beautiful adventure through Cappadocia this coming June.

June 2011 Cappadocia Relief Ride -
JUNE 17th THROUGH JUNE 30th 2011

Wishing all of you a wonderful spring!


Alexander Souri

"The truly great advances of this generation will be made by those who can make outrageous connections, and only a mind which knows how to play can do that."
-- Nagle Jackson

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