Okçular, my home village, is a simple farming community peopled by folk who are best described as ‘Salt of the Earth’. The village as we know it came into existence in the early to mid 1960s when the villagers of what had earlier been known as Kapız Köyü, together with their neighbouring hamlets, picked up picks and shovels and set about digging a drainage canal that would not only help to eradicate malaria but would make the fertile flood plain available for arable farming year-round. Building became possible and by-and-large families moved from the scrubby, rocky soil of Kapız (where I now live) to the new, rich land that was opened up to them.
People’s health and material lives began to improve and histories that were once only told in stories, passed by word of mouth from granny to grandchild, began to be recorded in photographs. There had been a few treasured snaps from earlier years but they were very few and far between.
As part of the research for my original Okçular Village Guide book, I asked my neighbours to lend me any old photos they had that might be useful to illustrate some of the old folks’ stories. As sales of the book took off and the Okçular Book Project became a reality J and I looked round for ways in which we could give something back to our friends and neighbours that would be useful and life-enhancing. Most of you already know about the play park for the kids and the mural project at the village school; you can re-cap on them by following these links http://archersofokcular.com/?p=859 http://archersofokcular.com/?p=1456
What you won’t be familiar with is the Photo Archive – as more photos than I could ever use were handed over for the book, I began to float the idea of a ‘Photo History’ that would make these treasures available to everyone. It was an idea that has captured the interest of most of the villagers to such an extent that whenever a display is put up, J and I get overwhelmed by the response.
It was apparent that what was needed was a permanent way to display the pictures. As we now have a new village centre with a tea house, barber, offices and an education room we have started to enlarge and frame the pictures and have them on permanent loan where everyone can enjoy them.
Here are just a few treasures from Okçular’s Photo Archive – a brief glimpse into a lost world – I hope you enjoy them.
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü