Last Friday, the association, which was recently awarded charitable status and acts with the full support of the municipality, hosted a gala dinner attended by more than 200 guests. Major beneficiaries of the association’s work so far, both from last Friday’s fundraising dinner and its charity work, have been local residents in need of financial help and an entire pre-school, which received funds to buy new furniture, flooring, a completely new bathroom and even a wall-mounted television.
This pre-school is part of the nearby Balat Primary School (Balat İlköğretim Okulu) and is housed in a separate building, and had been identified by Turkish authorities and citizens as having been in need of a makeover. Didim-Help-In-Hands became the sponsor of the renovation project, completed during the most recent January semester break. Pupils now enjoy a brand-new interior and even child-friendly technology.
Today’s Zaman had been invited to attend Friday’s event and spoke with Leah Corboz, one of the association’s founding members. Talking about the school project, Mrs. Corboz said: “There are at present about 14 children enrolled in the school between the ages of five and seven. They have just one teacher for this class.” Speaking about the group’s fundraising activities, she said: “On Friday night, we collected in excess of TL 2,600, bringing all donations the group has received so far since its inception in August 2011 to more than TL 10,000. Both Turkish citizens and expats contribute! Friday’s collections will go toward additional work to be carried out at the school, this time earmarked for the roof. Work will be priced next week and, depending on weather conditions, should be completed within the next two to three weeks.”
The group was immediately accepted, not just by expatriates but in particular by the Turkish community, because they have a well-known personal liaison embedded within the municipality. The groups sees themselves as an extension, an “add-on,” so to speak, to the almost 100 existing Turkish charities and NGOs already registered in the region. The group runs charity-type projects no one else has thought of, gaining the sponsorship of many local companies in the process. They do not wish to interfere in local politics but if asked, are happy to contribute where public funds might perhaps be scarce.
Today’s Zaman learned that the association hopes to hold maybe three or even four major fundraising events this year, with smaller events at regular intervals.
Success breeds success in the world of nongovernmental associations, too: The 200 plus guests at the gala dinner were addressed in person by two regional governors, a deputy mayor, a local police chief as well as the president of the chamber of commerce, to name but a few of the dignitaries who participated. One of them referred to the group not as “foreigners” but as “part of the heart of Didim”; all of this shows that multicultural awareness, two-way integration and cooperation can work out well as long as expatriates and Turkish neighbors pull in the same direction. Contact email: email@example.com.