KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has been a well-known global aid agency targeting regions in need since its inception in 1991. However, TIKA has had a different target in mind lately: Sudan. Sudan represents a place of untapped workers. One wherein a new swath of industries can thrive and trade can freely flow. Therefore, Turkey’s partnership with Sudan tries to fuel creativity and create important economic cooperation.
Helping Sudan’s Prisoners
In September of 2020, the agency began supporting the prison population in Sudan.
The agency donated:
- 100 welding rods
- 240 grinding discs
- 280 cutting discs
- Welding goggles
- Sheet metal
At first glance, this list seems very random. But, when you factor in TIKA’s goals, the picture becomes much more evident. The donations came in light of a new vocational program designed to help prisoners develop professional skills. The ultimate goal is to give the participants a vocation when leaving the prison. Therefore, they will receive training in a three-and-a-half-month course on welding. Mustafa Kemal Akbulut, Turkey’s Deputy Chief of the Mission for Political and Economic Affairs, weighed in on these goals. “We are sure that this project will have a huge impact on the lives of these people after they complete their time in prison.”
Vocational Training in various Professional Fields
Back in 2019, TIKA co-sponsored another vocational training session where 1,132 participants received various certifications in the fields of:
- Computer Numerical Control
- Air Conditioning and Refrigerators
- Textile and Apparel
- Hotel Management
The training was held at the Sudan Turkish Vocational Trainers’ Training Center, an organization that TIKA established in 2013. In total, 5,504 Sudanese have received training from the center in the seven years of its existence.
Rehabilitation Programs for Former Drug Addicts
In late October of 2020, TIKA established a rehabilitation program for 105 people who had previously been addicted to illicit drugs. Part of the rehabilitation process had to do with learning about trade and implementing it. The program covered the ins and outs of being a successful business owner. The main demographic was young men and children who recovered from drug addiction.
TIKA provided training and “machine device support” for various professions from barbers to blacksmiths. Since it is often an obstacle to developing a business, TIKA also donated machinery to participants. A participant of the program, Bekri Muhammed Musa, thanked TIKA for the material support, which enabled him to be a blacksmith.
Equipment for Women in Sudan
TIKA picked up the torch for Women’s vocational independence when it gifted 50 women equipment related to their profession. For instance, the agency focused on women with low income and living in the Mandela region.
Furthermore, the capital of Sudan, Khartoum, is known for serving refugees from other war-torn areas in Sudan. Refugees were forced from their homes and businesses in Darfur, Blue Nile, South Kordofan and the neighboring nation of South Sudan. İrfan Neziroğlu, Turkey’s Ambassador in Khartoum, had words of encouragement to the Crafts for Sustainable Development Association: “Our wish is to deliver them to hundreds of women in all provinces of Sudan . . . Sudanese women are among the most powerful women in the world. Believe in yourself.”
The Crafts for Sustainable Development Association received machine donations from TIKA in the form of:
- Sewing machines
- Embroidery machines
- Leather processing machines
- Spice processing machines
TIKA hopes to expand well beyond the programs and groups mentioned. Therefore, the projects will serve women in the whole country. They will also include youths and low-income professionals from other regions.
The work of TIKA in Sudan is a new model for inter-state alliances in the 21st century. By assisting the Sudanese population, Turkey hopes to profit from Sudan’s economic success and growth.
– Christopher Millard