Turkey, Life, Africa

Generosity of Turkish people helps save lives in Uganda

Moves by Ankara evidence of rise of Turkey, supplanting spots previously occupied by colonialists, especially in Africa

Hamza Kyeyune   | 04.09.2021
Generosity of Turkish people helps save lives in Uganda

KAMPALA, Uganda

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus to designate Sept. 5 as International Day of Charity.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Turkey and 43 other UN members to remember the contribution charities make to society and to celebrate human generosity.

The move is evidence of the rise of Turkey, taking up space previously occupied by colonialists, especially in Africa.

Many African countries have welcomed Turkey as a major international partner, which analysts have attributed to the fact it is a nation that is free of colonial history and exploitation.

Its model of combining diplomacy with a strong commitment that focuses on direct aid and mutually beneficial economic partnerships has been instrumental in winning local support and manifested a real impact on the ground.

In 2005, it was granted observer status at the African Union and has since gained a new status as a new emerging economic and humanitarian power in Africa.

Its trade volume with Africa increased from around $5.4 billion in 2003 to around $26 billion in 2019, with $16 billion exports to Africa, according to data gleaned from the Turkish Statistical Institute, also known as TurkStat.

Forbes magazine reported in 2018 that trade between African nations and Turkey increased more than 600% in the last 15 years. Turkey increased its diplomatic presence on the continent to more than 40 embassies, and Turkish Airlines flies to over 50 African destinations. Turkey’s interests in Africa rival those of France that explains the recent tangled tussle from Paris to Ankara.

Turkey's growing influence in Africa is not only aided by projects and policies implemented by the Turkish government through the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), but also shaped by personal contributions made by the Turks, through various humanitarian organizations.

Various Turkish foundations including Foundation for Education and Solidarity (FES), Care Foundation, SENA Foundation, among others, work tirelessly in Uganda, going above and beyond to make sure their efforts helps people to overcome helplessness, brought about by unemployment and economic inequalities focusing on education, health, agriculture, sanitation, and infrastructure development.

The Turkish government through TIKA has several projects in Uganda, including newly-constructed classroom blocks at two schools, tailoring and fashion design at various locations, and two radio stations, among others.

TIKA country representative to Uganda, Yahya Acu, told Anadolu Agency that he intends to respond to a request to establish a radio station in Western Uganda and connect with global communities.

Currently, radio is the leading source of information in Uganda, with more than 75% of the population relying on radio for news and information. This is because radio is inexpensive and uses dry cells that are affordable since the majority of people have no electricity to watch televisions.

Although other regions in Uganda have at least one radio station addressing Muslim-related issues, the entire Western region has no single radio doing the same.

Western Uganda Mufti AbdulMajid Kamara told Anadolu Agency that although charity sometimes gets misunderstood in a way that it is somehow demeaning to the recipient, we must recognize that it is at heart, and it is a noble enterprise that plays a significant role in the bettering of human conditions.

“Charity comes in different shapes and sizes, but in whatever form it comes, acts of caring and kindness with no thought of recompense, help to enhance our shared quest for global solidarity and to live together in harmony and alleviate humanitarian crises and human suffering,” he said.

“Now more than ever before, every abled individual needs to give more and give better, to relieve the increased suffering brought about by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Saim Celik, director for FES.

“Water has been our major focus recently as health officials have emphasized that washing one’s hands regularly and properly is one of the most effective ways to prevent COVID-19. We have built several boreholes in different areas for people of all faiths to access free, clean water. When there is no clean water, people will have no choice but to rely on unsafe water or will not wash their hands, exposing themselves to COVID-19,” he added.

According to the World Resources Institute, one in every three people across Africa is facing water scarcity.

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