Afacan entdecken
From dream to reality

In 1988, the Er-Fahren working group together with Gençtur Istanbul came up with the idea of creating a place in Turkey where young people could come together. Hotels in the tourist areas were hardly appropriate for the groups we sponsor and there were hardly any non-state-run conference facilities in Turkey that were available for such events as seminars by the Gençtur staff, who accompanied our groups and led work camps.

Our dream was to create a place where young people could move about freely, a place that would meet their needs, but that would also give them the opportunity to come into contact with Turkish society and engage with it. We started developing our ideas and taking first steps toward turning our plan into reality.

After extensive discussion, the Umverteilen! Stiftung für eine, solidarische Welt steering committee decided in 1990 to make 500,000 German marks of donations to the Foundation available to the Er-Fahren working group; two years later another 1.17 million marks were added in order to continue work on the meeting center.

Over ten years passed before this work was to be completed. Finally, after a series of sometimes very taxing and unpleasant obstacles that tested us to our very limits, we were able in 2003 to purchase a hotel complex on the Aegean coast (80 km north of Izmir) and have it converted according to our specifications. A Berlin-based, Turkish engineer took over the planning and management of the construction, which was carried out by an Istanbul company. The money we had available for the project was just enough to renovate the facility and install basic fixtures. We put together our plan for the use of the site with Gençtur Istanbul, whose manager also took over the management of Afacan. He was given the responsibility of managing the facility, hiring and training employees and planning the outfitting of the interior and overall operations together with the Er-Fahren working group and friends in Turkey.

Renovations were completed in 2004 and the meeting center could finally open.

A wide variety of people come to Afacan. As was our original intention, it is used by groups from Germany that are sponsored by the Er-Fahren working group. These groups no longer spend their relaxation time in hotels but in our meeting center. Summer camps for children and young people from Turkey are also held in Afacan, and we host international work-camp projects and cross-cultural events with participants from a variety of countries (funded by the EU). The facility is also regularly used by Alternative Camp, an organization working with people with special needs.

The number of overnight stays has risen considerably – almost doubling between 2004 and 2014. We still, however, have to depend on financial support from the Foundation. Our budget situation continues to be difficult, in part because we did not have the funds to furnish the facility as elaborately as we would have wanted to when we first opened. The important thing now is to spread the word about the many ways Afacan can be used so that more guests find us.

In any case, our meeting center really has become the peaceful oasis we once dreamed about.

A detailed presentation of the project (in German):