Africa Turkish charities bring smiles, hope to Africa

Turkish charities bring smiles, hope to Africa

Turkey may be several thousand kilometers away from Africa, but the mere mention of the country’s name brings a smile to many on the continent who have benefited from the generosity of its charities.

“It is an indescribable feeling to support people in need,” Akniyet Turganali, country representative for the Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) in South Sudan told Anadolu Agency.

He said work in the field could sometimes be hard or dangerous, but when they see the smile of children and the emotions of vulnerable people it gives them motivation and willingness to even work harder.

The TRC, which has been in the war-affected South Sudan since 2017, works in close partnership with the South Sudan Red Cross serving thousands of vulnerable communities.

They often distribute food items, tents, and hygienic kits to thousands at Internally Displaced People’s (IDPs) camps across the country bringing joy to many helpless people.

“In April, TRC, gave food packages to hundreds of people during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in a drive carried out in collaboration with the Islamic Council of South Sudan and local development group MADA,” Turganali said.

He said they provided 1,000 food parcels to centers for blind people, to centers for the disabled, prisons, hospitals, and the local community. The food packages included flour, beans, sugar, cooking oil, and other items.

At one of their food distribution events, a young Sudanese man dressed in sportswear is seen in a video waving the Turkish flag in appreciation. Another South Sudanese woman who identifies herself as only Joyce appreciates the assistance rendered to them by TRC.

Turganali told Anadolu Agency the humanitarian aid group has mostly been implementing projects in the area of water, sanitation, and hygiene promotion, though they are also engaged in support activities such as visiting orphanages and meeting essential needs of children there such as shoes, clothes, food items, household items, hygiene items among others.

He said TRC has also built latrines and shower units at the Nimule Hospital near the South Sudan-Uganda border to support COVID-19 treatment in the hospital.

“Having said this, I would like to highlight that TRC is always supporting South Sudan Red Cross to reach the most vulnerable people in the country,” he added.

TRC has also dug wells bringing clean water to deprived communities in the country.

Turganali said TRC in collaboration with South Sudan Red Cross helped thousands of people who had been pushed out of their homes by floods in Bor County last year.

They provided hygiene kits, chlorinated boreholes and conducted an awareness campaign about hygiene promotion.

South Africa

Turkiye Diyanet Vakfi (TDV) is one of the Turkish charities working in South Africa and often helps people in neighboring countries including Lesotho and Eswatini.

The foundation which works in cooperation with local partners including Jamiatul Ulama South Africa, Muslim Judicial Council, AwqafSA, Darul Uloom Zakariyya, and al-Qaasim Islamic Center, has been doing charity work in the country since 2013.

Ahmet Yilmaz, the social affairs counselor at the Turkish Embassy in Pretoria, told Anadolu Agency that during the Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, this year, Diyanet distributed meat to more than 85,000 needy families in South Africa and Lesotho.

Yilmaz said they gave out meat between July 22 and Aug. 3, in nearly 100 locations in the country, including major South African cities such as Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, and Pretoria.

The Diyanet Foundation, which has been carrying out meat distribution projects in South Africa for the past eight years, had its program this year headed by Yilmaz, who was appointed to the position in February.

Yilmaz said they also arranged a Ramadan food distribution program in cooperation with their South African partner organizations this year delivering food packages to 800 families in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

Yilmaz said the Diyanet Foundation will continue its social aid projects across South Africa.

Praises for Turkey

“Whenever the holy month of Ramadan or Eid approaches, I’m sure I will not go hungry. Our Turkish friends will provide us with food,” Mujahid Ali, a 55-year-old father of four, told Anadolu Agency in Crosby, south of Johannesburg.

The South African Muslim community in the historic township of Soweto also praised and thanked the Turkish government and its people for assisting them in renovating a mosque in their community.

“On behalf of the community of Soweto, we are grateful and appreciate the help and support that the Turkish government has given us in renovating our mosque,” Luqmaan Mogapi, head of communications at the Masjidul Umma in Soweto, told Anadolu Agency.

There are several Turkish organizations working in South Africa, in different fields, and not necessarily in the charity sector. These include the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), a development aid agency, Yunus Emre Institute (YEE) which promotes Turkish culture, and Maarif Foundation, an educational arm of the Turkish government, among others.

Although TIKA is not a charity organization but a development aid agency, it has helped people across Southern Africa during times of need.