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Aug 17, 2020

This is Our Village

Oglakli Village
Oglakli Village

Dear Friends,

We hope you and families are healthy and safe.

 

This is Our Village…

Even though we live on the other side of the world, that village is our village… 

I want to write  two stories that crossed paths and feeding each other. Let me start with the second one.

When I moved to United States seven years ago, I wanted to keep my connection with the students who I supported thru some civil society and by myself.  Our path crossed with Bridge to Turkiye in this period and I couldn’t believe what they’ve done for the students in Turkey for 17 years, since the day it was founded in 2003.   It was even beyond my imagination.  I learned that BTF empowered thousands of students, from primary education to university education in all levels, from all regions of Turkey, east, west, north, south, urban, or rural parts of the country.  It became one of my favorite civil organizations since then.

My first story is related with the children living in deep east part of Turkey, the province called Agr. The story begins in 2009, when a group of Bogazici University Alumnus visited Agr Province and the villages around. Agr is one of the poorest towns in Turkey, national income per capita being less than $3500, and female literacy rate at 52.3%.

The first thing gets our attention was the school building. It was a small building and has only 2 classrooms. So, the students from 1st to 3rd classes were taking lessons in one, the 4th and 5th were in the other classroom.  There were three teachers, all of them were from the cities of western part of Turkey.  After a pleasant conversation with teachers and villagers, we talked about to make a school building for the village, called Oglakl.

This idea thrilled us all and we built the school in collaboration with an amazing organization. We launched a campaign named “Bir tugla da sen koy ” (which literally translates to “you put a brick too”), to raise funds through the help of our fellow alumnus of the class of 1981 and many others. The construction of the school building was finalized in September 2009 and ready for a brand new academic semester. It was an initiative that pleased everyone, especially the students and their teachers. After our campaign was published on the school’s journal, the word got around fast and we were overjoyed by the amount of recognition we received more than we ever did. From 2009 to 2016, there were four other elementary schools built through the funds raised by other Bogazici Alumnus, named as follows: Güvendik, Çatali Pasa, Tezeren1, and Tezeren2. 

  

When the children of the schools we funded began graduating, we contemplated on the ways we can help the newly graduates transition into the following steps of their academic future. The question daunted especially for our female graduates. This distinction is important for there is a higher chance of an uneducated young school girl being wedded in a small villages as such.

Me and my fellow alumnus reunited to open up a scholarship fund for the graduates of our very own Bosphorus Middle School, which would help them continue their studies in a high school. The fund will primarily be used for transportation from their location to that of the school, provision of test prep books for university placement exam and provide financial aid to those who enrolls in a university. So far, we have successfully helped 11 girls receive higher education. We keep encouraging them and following their success. They became a role model for the younger sisters who continue their education in the village.

 If I go back to the second story, I found out by coincidence that BTF helped the fundraising process of the construction of the Tezeren school (the school mentioned previously). It turns out that our organization and BTF had already been acquainted and had their paths crossed to fund and support quality education. We hosted our first fundraising event in February 12th, 2017, together my schoolmate Tendü Yogurtcu.  Through the funds collected, we donated books, stationary supplies, science kits, boots and coats to these classrooms. In addition, we also secured college scholarships for five graduates. Hearing about their enrollment to a university was beyond gratifying to us. 

Every year on our birthdays, we hosted fundraisings for the same cause on our social media platforms. We have so far supported four female college students with this way. Thus, we believe that even if we are on the other side of the world, we formed a friendship bridge with all of the four villages we funded.

Due to the period of Covid-19, we have provided electronic supplies to our students, to prevent the reduction of school participation, particularly among female students.

Our biggest dream is to see one of the students we helped get accepted to our alma mater Bosphorus University.

 

Last word:

To fund education is one of the greatest civic duties one can undertake. Doing so especially in underprivileged rural towns is vitally important, even it can be said to be equivalent to saving life.

We are grateful for your continued support.

Bridge to Turkiye Friends of Agr Children

Tezeren 4th Bogazici Primary School
Tezeren 4th Bogazici Primary School
Oglakl 1st Bogazici Primary School
Oglakl 1st Bogazici Primary School
VillageChilds will go to college with your support
VillageChilds will go to college with your support
Bogazici University is waiting for you...
Bogazici University is waiting for you...
This little girl is in scholarship program today
This little girl is in scholarship program today
Aug 14, 2020

BRIDGE TO TURKIYE 4KIDS PROJECTS EMPOWER CHILDREN FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE

 

“Don’t allow circumstance to hold you back- even negative ones. You don’t have to let your circumstances define you. You can define yourself, and the best way to find yourself is through education.” — Mary Hatwood Futrell

 

This year has been an unforgettable year for all of us. Children, teachers and families were affected by the closure of schools and the transition to long-distance education, due to Covid19, and devastating earthquakes in Turkey. With your generous support, Bridge to Turkiye continued to deliver our love and support to children and educators coping with new circumstances and educational paths.

  

Education is one of the greatest gift for children’s lives. Every child has the right to get an education. Good quality education helps children find and achieve their goals. BTF 4Kids Projects aim to make a difference in the lives of rural area students by investing in their education. Our gifts support students in their learning, improve teacher effectiveness and empower the students.

 

In 2019 - 2020 school year, we sent 5,265 elementary level story books, 2,080 kindergarten level books, 1,785 English-Turkish-Turkish-English dictionaries, 300 English story books, 487 school bags, 39 sets of educational toys, 24 sets of Music4Kids, 21 sets of Science4Kids sets, 26 sets of Arts4Kids, 38 sets of Math4Kids, 21 sets of 23 NisanGifts4Kids, 1 projector, 5 robotics kits, 26 computers and 2,000 care packages for stay home students in Turkey.

 

We are very grateful to our GlobalGiving donors who continue to support us so generously. Your support propels our 4Kids projects forward so we can do more than just get kids in the classroom. We can empower them for a brighter future. Equipped with essential life skills and literacy, they can grow into adults that earn higher wages, educate their own children, and have a voice in their community.

 

It's always with great joy that we share information on our work.  Stay safe and healthy!

 

Links:

Apr 21, 2020

STEM =Science+Technology+Engineering+Math= HEALTH

BTF Scholar
BTF Scholar

Dear Friends,

Now, more than ever, we understand the importance of science in making the human condition better.

Now, more than ever, we benefit from the scientific discovery for treatments, cures, and vaccines in the medical field.

Now, more than ever, we see the value and meaning of math in producing reliable data so that life-saving decisions can be made in the labs and in the field.

STEM = Science + Technology + Engineering + Math = HEALTH

These four disciplines have increasingly become a part of our daily lives and the modern medicine as we go through the COVID-19 pandemic more, and our world is moving forward with concepts devised by STEM. Doctors are educated in these areas and working with these fields every day.

As in the rest of the world, Turkish women are underrepresented in STEM fields.  This can only be changed by supporting more girls with STEM Scholarships.  With this in mind, Bridge to Turkiye Fund (BTF) provides empowerment scholarships primarily to girls pursuing higher education.  Additionally, most of BTF’s scholarships are awarded to first generation college attendees from their families, and to girls in the STEM fields. 

To date, BTF has empowered more than 4,500 students through educational scholarships that are given primarily to disadvantaged girls. Providing educational opportunities is key to combating early marriage, illiteracy, school dropout, and low wages, which are common barriers faced by many Turkish girls as they try to pursue an education. Providing education will make a difference now and for generations to come, giving women greater educational and economic opportunities to strengthen their communities.

Our statistics show that 57% of BTF empowerment scholarships are awarded to students in the fields of engineering, computers, math and science. To bring this closer to home here are some of our medical students’ recent reflections and concerns when they were asked to share how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the course of their education.  How have their thoughts about their future profession changed?  How do they spend their time during quarantine?  Let’s find out!

Burcak, 1st year nurse student writes, “The world is going through a very difficult period.  We are all on pins and needles.  We are all staying in our houses, which is our main responsibility right now.  As a former employee nurse assistant and a new nurse student, the pandemic makes me very nervous. I think we understand the value of healthcare workers better now. My only wish is that everyone stay home until the virus is completely gone.

I would like to thank you with all my heart for not abandoning your financial support at this time.  I had to work for 2 years after graduating from nursing high school due to financial difficulties. I worked in the hospital as an emergency nurse assistant. I took the university exam every year but I was able to study and take it only last year because I needed to work. I do not know what it would be possible without your scholarship support.  Thank you so very much. I will do my best not to disappoint you!’"

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Fidan, 2nd year medical student writes, "I chose this profession knowing these challenging conditions. Healthcare workers normally already have shifts of 48 hours.  I want to try to do whatever I can to ensure the continuity of life. Too many healthcare workers have been infected, unfortunately. I hope everyone survives this pandemic. I am following along with my training provided through distance learning.  I am a medical student and I spend my days trying not to think about the possibility of our teachers getting infected while waiting for this process to end as soon as possible. I hope we all get through this period with good health.
My message is, if there is a future, we will do it together.”

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Sibel, 3rd year medical student:  "With the arrival of the coronavirus, we had to take a break from our education. To protect our health, we are not leaving the house.  I am with my family during this temporary period. We hope to return to normal soon. Being a medical doctor in these circumstances makes me think and worry, but my love for my profession outweighs these concerns.  I want to be a neurologist, and after I get to know the hospital and medical challenges, my dream is to be a leader at the planning and administration level.  I’d like to be the Minister of Health. I hope to do it all."

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Aynur, 4th year medical student writes, “I am very happy that I chose this profession.  I wish I was already a doctor helping patients right now... I want to complete my education and start helping people as soon as possible. Schools were closed for 3 weeks due to the measures taken when the pandemic started to affect our country. As soon as I heard this, I bought my ticket and came to the city where my parents live. Honestly, I didn't think this process would be this long, so I didn't bring my books ….

I am worried because I know that more than 600 of our colleagues are affected by this outbreak right now, which shows that the necessary precautions for medical personnel are not enough. But of course, I think that I chose the right profession by thinking how much I can help people in such a situation.

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Dilek , 5th year medical student writes, "I think every job in the medical field is dangerous, even when there is no virus. The risk of transmission of diseases, violence to the health workers, managing patients’ seizures, etc. are just a few of the challenges of working in the healthcare industry. While I am very aware of these potential situations, I still choose this profession and believe in its impact.”

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Yet another medical student writes:

"Hi, I'm a student of medicine.  There is a global health crisis that prevents us from following our daily routine, like going to work or school. My university is closed.  We are careful about going outside so generally we stay at home.  Some people ask me if I was worried about becoming a doctor at this time, but in fact, it made me more enthusiastic.  Sometimes I find myself saying I wish I were a doctor already working in this situation. In Turkey we say ‘Coronavirus is not stronger than any precaution you will take.’”  I like that we have the power to make the virus disappear with soap and water - and this encourages people. And my message is that many people are working day and night to find a cure and a vaccine.  They are trying to do everything that can be done. First and foremost, we have to be a doctor to ourselves.  We understand our own health, feelings, worries, and ourselves best. We have to help the doctors by being in good health as much as possible.”

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Our last student writes, 

"After the first incidence of Coronavirus was announced on March 23, the government closed all schools.  Universities started online education and announced that the spring term will be completed in this way. We are careful about precautions and staying at home. Currently, we are at home taking online classes and doing homework. As we are at the last term of university, there are some uncertainties. The greatest question is how we will complete our internship. Many students returned to their homes without any books or materials. We all hope the entire world will be cleaned of this terrible virus as soon as possible. "

 

Thank you for your continued support…

Wishing you safety and health,

BTF Scholars
BTF Scholars
BTF Scholars
BTF Scholars

Links:

 
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