The Syrian refugee crisis has displaced at least 5.6 million people since it began in 2011, many of whom sought refuge in neighboring countries. The Turkish city of Reyhanli welcomed thousands of refugees but tensions began to rise within the city itself and across borders. In response, Chen-Yu Chiu founded the Taiwan-Reyhanli Centre for World Citizens, built with the support of the government of Taiwan. The Centre intends to serve both Syrian refugees and Turkish locals, believing that what unites us is greater than what divides us.
Built to mirror the architecture of the now-destroyed Umayyad mosque in Damascus, the Center’s structure presents a common ground between Muslim Syrians and Turks. Chiu described how he worked with other non-governmental organizations to help Syrian women refugees learn fabric crafting to develop products for sale. They currently have several types of crafted items available for purchase, aided by a crowdfunding campaign in Taiwan. Hope, he said, is in our hands.
We believe that one day all the border walls will fall. On that day, no war can stop our children from moving around. Everyone will treat everyone equally, no matter your nationality, gender, religion, or language. On that day each of our children will become a world citizen.