Turkey

Turkish Red Crescent delivers Ramadan aid to over 8M needy

Aid group extends nation's ‘hand of mercy’ to oppressed, needy in 18 countries during Muslim holy month

Jeyhun Aliyev and Faruk Zorlu   | 12.05.2021
Turkish Red Crescent delivers Ramadan aid to over 8M needy

ANKARA

A major Turkish aid agency reached over 8 million people both in Turkey and across the globe during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan while the novel coronavirus continues its grip worldwide.

“The Islamic world has been going through the blessed month of Ramadan with a heavy heart for the past two years,” Kerem Kinik, the head of the Turkish Red Crescent, or Kizilay, told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview, referring to the pandemic which affects the world.

He underlined that Kizilay worked to deliver cash supports, supermarket shopping voucher codes, cans of roasted meat, hot meals prepared in soup kitchens, food parcels, holiday packages for children, as well as clothing aids to those in need.

As in the previous year, he said, the charity group in its Ramadan activities gave priority to the segments of society most affected by the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic further adversely affected the lives of millions of people, especially day laborers and service sector employees. We gave priority to these brothers and sisters and their families in our food and holiday clothing aids,” he said, adding that certain aids in the form of cash and supermarket shopping voucher codes were also sent to these people.

Kinik said nearly 60,000 volunteers besides the staff worked to deliver aid on the field in Turkey, adding that the international activities have been carried out by the aid group’s permanent representatives in 18 countries.

He also expressed his gratitude to all donors who contributed to reaching a helping hand to those in need during the Muslim fasting month.

“Kizilay is a charity that extends this nation's hand of mercy to the oppressed,” he said.


New needs amid pandemic

Kinik emphasized that besides ordinary aid packages, new needs were born due to pandemic circumstances.

“Hygiene kits, which we used to distribute after a disaster, became a daily necessity. Mask, disinfectants became the main necessities,” he said.

He highlighted that Kizilay made an “intense effort” to meet the needs of the nation and distributed millions of hygiene packages across the country.

Beyond these, he said, the lockdown and constant stay at home also brought new needs along with it, as youth volunteers were mobilized to more often visit the elderly people living alone for meeting their needs.


Aid activities during Ramadan

“During the month of Ramadan, we primarily work to ensure that people have a table set ready for them for having iftar (fast-breaking meal). We distribute hot meals and deliver the food parcels mainly for this reason,” Kinik said.

Considering the changing conditions amid the pandemic, Kizilay is now trying to deliver more cash aid and allow people to meet their own specific needs, he said, noting that tens of thousands of families received various amounts of cash aid during Ramadan this year.

The charity agency also delivered holiday packages for 410,000 children during the month, he added.

“Although we were under lockdown, we thought that every child should have new clothes for the holiday.”

Lamenting that the charity had not been able to arrange iftar meals due to virus-related restrictions this year either, Kinik said Kizilay instead tried to meet the needs of people for iftar and sahur -- the pre-fast meal eaten before dawn -- with 26 soup kitchens and 44 mobile catering vehicles across the country.

“Meals cooked in soup kitchens with donations of charitable people were taken to the homes of those who couldn’t go there,” he said, adding that besides hot meals also "pide" -- a traditional round and flat bread generally consumed during the fasting month -- was delivered to homes of needy.


‘Delivering Ramadan abundance to children’

With its 153-year-old charity history, Kizilay, despite the pandemic, “meticulously” carried out its Ramadan activities both in Turkey and in “oppressed geographies,” and worked to bring the “abundance of Ramadan” to children, Kinik said.

He went on to say that the charity also distributed iftar meals for children staying in orphanages and refugee camps in Turkey and abroad on the 15th day of Ramadan observed as World Orphans Day.

Kizilay, which meets the needs of orphans throughout the year, also tries to improve orphanages and play a role in meeting needs such as food, clothing, education, and health, he added.

“All kinds of needs of nearly 10,000 orphans in 12 orphanages in Syria are met with the support of our benefactors,” Kinik said, adding that thousands of orphans are also being taken care of in other geographies, including Somalia and Rakhine camps.

There are over 140 million orphans among the 2.2 billion child population in the world. One-third of orphans globally are living in Syria, Iraq, East Turkistan, Somalia, Mali, Sudan, Palestine, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Yemen, Myanmar, and Algeria.

“Turkey's mercy hand covers all orphans in the world like a compassion wrap,” Kinik concluded.

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