Woman-to-Woman Worldwide Service Project for 2011

Istanbul Interparish Migrant Program (IIMP) Istanbul, Turkey

In 1991, local church parishes in Istanbul, Turkey, began coordinated efforts to serve the influx of refugees to Istanbul during the First Gulf War. Hearing the continuing call to minister to the needs of economic immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees living in Turkey, these parishes have sustained and further developed this ecumenical program over the last twenty years. The number of immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in Turkey is currently around 100,000. Today the Istanbul Interparish Migrant Program (IIMP) focuses on the most marginalized groups of immigrants, namely women with children. IIMP is a Critical Presence in the lives of those they help. It works with other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that advocate for the rights of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. Istanbul Interparish Migrant Program clients include people from over 50 countries, many of whom reached Turkey on foot. Some arrive legally and then lose their legal status; others were brought to Turkey against their will, smuggled in by human traffickers; still others have fled   dangerous situations for themselves and their families in their home countries.

IIMP services include food, clothing, health care, counseling, education opportunities, legal aid for seeking asylum, voluntary repatriation, and emergency shelter subsidies. Programs and services are provided primarily by volunteers, some of whom are former clients of the IIMP. The work of the IIMP includes:

A Moms and Tots group providing weekly access to qualified health volunteers who provide information and referrals. They also provide programming for preschool children, a safe and nurturing environment,

and a hot and nutritional meal.

Subsidies for rent and utilities or travel subsidies are provided for some clients. The travel subsidies allow clients to travel within Turkey for interviews with the United Nations or to move to a city assigned by Turkish authorities. 

Assistance to Families includes arranging for the safe delivery of babies, especially for the most vulnerable mothers, and providing whole milk, multivitamins, and diapers to mothers and children. They also distribute food coupons and provide hot meals and help with medical costs for those who need it most.