In Istanbul, Amer promotes intergration and tolerance between Syrian, Iraqi, Kurdish and Egyptian refugees and Turkish children who take part in his workshops.

Since fighting began in 2011, 6.5 million people have been displaced within Syria. Four years ago, 28-year-old Capoeira Changemaker, Amer was forced to flee his home in Syria and became a displaced person in his own country.

He ended up in a town where children had little access to basic rights like education or play-based activities. In the midst of these challenges, Amer saw an opportunity to do something to support the children. By converting a school into a space to teach Capoeira, he hoped to positively help young people deal with the impacts of war and the resultant physical, mental & social issues that were impacting their daily lives. Despite the risks involved, Amer saw that Capoeira allowed his students to channel anger and frustration in a safe and healthy way.

“I was an invisible man. ISIS were everywhere so we took hidden roads. There was bombing every day but we saw the kids needed it to stay strong”

In 2014, when the situation worsened, Amer left Syria for Gaziantep, Turkey, where he conducted a Capoeira4Refugees training workshop. He also trained others to make positive social change in their own communities, reaching more and more youth impacted by war.

Amer now lives in Istanbul where he is passionately promoting Capoeira.

“Together with my brother, who was also a Capoeira trainer in Syria, we are making huge progress in a very short time-frame. We have collaborated with NGOs that work with Syrian and Romani refugees in Istanbul’s schools and community centres, and they want to work with us…”

Due to the success of his work, numerous NGO’s have reached out to him about starting workshops for the substantial Syrian refugee population in Istanbul. For example, Small Projects Istanbul has called upon Amer to lead a Capoeira summer camp program for Syrian refugees.

Despite limited resources, such as space, number of trainers, time and financial support, Amer has big ambitions for his project, with a particular focus on reaching the undeserved girls and women in his community. He is also making progress on securing larger venues for workshops. Despite the need for greater support, Amer is confident in his projects in Istanbul and recognises the huge potential and demand by Syrian and Romani refugees for Capoeira workshops.

Amer knows firsthand the positive impact music, sport & play can have on young people. Amer hopes to use this programme to inspire others so that they might one day be changemakers. Capoeira4Refugees is proud to support Amer and his initiatives in Istanbul.