As you may remember, we talked about women's life in Mardin before and did some interviews with ÇATOM teachers. Here is the rest of the interview we did with them:

MÜJDE KAYA (The crochet teacher):

1. How did you become involved in the ÇATOM?

I went to ÇATOM for five years as a student. Then, I was excited about the idea of teaching the crafts I know to other people. So, I decided to work here as a teacher. I am teaching crocheting.

2. How would you describe life for women in Ömerli?

Social life in this town is very limited. There is not much to do, so women spend their time at home raising kids and doing house works. They don’t do much for themselves.

3. What is your educational background?

I graduated from high school.

4. What are your goals (for work with ÇATOM, yourself, etc.)?

I want to continue working in ÇATOM in a bigger building and also want to reach more women.

5. What do you love to do/make?

I love to read and spend time with my family.

6. What would surprise people not from Turkey to learn about Ömerli-Mardin?

Mardin is a beautiful city where different cultures, religions, and languages meet. Ömerli is a very small and clean town which is famous with its hospitality.

EDİBE GÜNEŞ (The knitting teacher):

1. How did you become involved in the ÇATOM?

I went to ÇATOM for ten years as a student. Later, I wanted to work as a teacher here, so I applied. I teach knitting.

2. How would you describe life for women in Ömerli?

It is a difficult life. Women cannot work, they are always at home, either cleaning and taking care of the house or raise children.

3. What is your educational background?

I graduated from high school.

4. What are your goals (for work with ÇATOM, yourself, etc.)?

I want to continue working in ÇATOM. And also help more women learn knitting for them to make money.

5. What do you love to do/make?

Other times when I am not at ÇATOM, I like to spend time with my children and grandchildren.

6. What would surprise people not from Turkey to learn about Ömerli-Mardin?

Ömerli is a town everyone should see and experience the life in here.

VEYSİYE BARAN (The felt-works teacher):

1. How did you become involved in the ÇATOM?

I went to ÇATOM as a student for five years. I realized that working here would be very good for me because I not only practice crafts but also teach people something that can be an income for them. I am the first person who ever did felting in this town. So, I am happy to teach them what I know.

2. How would you describe life for women in Ömerli?

Life in Ömerli is boring for women. There are no opportunities for them, so they always stay home. Since they are always at home, they raise kids, cook and clean all day long.

3. What is your educational background?

I graduated from high school.

4. What are your goals (for work with ÇATOM, yourself, etc.)?

I want to keep my job in ÇATOM. I will be happier if I can teach more women felting and help them make income out of it.

5. What do you love to do/make?

I love to travel a lot. I also like to spend time with my family.

6. What would surprise people not from Turkey to learn about Ömerli-Mardin?

Mardin has a rich culture and history, there are a lot to see. Ömerli is a small town, but still keeping it’s traditions alive.

 

 

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Replies to This Discussion

Umut and James,

Thank you very much for these short interviews. I took the liberty of highlighting a few of your questions and answers because I find them very helpful for our understanding.

I think, we in the US, really don't have much of a clue of what life outside of the Western world looks like and what the realities are for women who live so remotely. I am positively impressed with the frankness of these answers and the women's desire to make something out of the Catoms. In this you have found a common goal and I applaud you all in Turkey and in the US for pursuing this together.

Since they have been so frank in their discussions, I am wondering if they would have a set of questions for women on the crafthaus network too? Maybe they would be interested to formulate a set of questions, things they are curious about and I will post this to everyone here and see where this interaction leads. To what extent do they have internet access, because of translation issues I assume we will have to ask for your interpretation services, Umut...

Brigitte,

I think, it is a great idea to get questions from them and I would be happy to translate. I will call them and ask them to prepare some questions. They have computers and internet connection in their school, so it will be easy for them to send me their questions.

Thank you!

As Brigitte says, the west is not so good at understanding anything outside of the US/Europe axis and it is quite sobering to read comments like "Women cannot work, they are always at home, either cleaning and taking care of the house or raise children". It is all too easy to take for granted the way in which women are able to be themselves here and forget that it isn't that way for everyone, which brings up the flip side of that: what are the roles of men in Turkish society? What happens when women want to be engineers and men want to learn to knit?

"Keeping traditions alive" is important but it can only be done successfully by integrating the traditions into social and technological progress. I am thinking about the Harris Tweed industry in Scotland which, only a few years ago, nearly died out. By embracing new colours, new marketing strategies and new markets, it is now booming; traditionally woven by men, it is now worked by both sexes.

This is proving to be a fascinating project.

 

Even in Turkey, we are not good at understanding life in rural areas. In big cities, life is very different than these rural areas. Women are strong and independent in contrast of rural area women. I think, all is related to education. I am sure that rural area men would never learn to knit or do housework, whereas, city men do all these without hesitation. It is all about education and self-confidence it brings. Maybe in the future the education level of these areas will rise and these problems will be solved (hopefully)...

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