Volume 12, Number 6
18 October 2005

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This Week

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You're familiar with this situation: You're walking down the street, and a small child comes up, begging you for money with those little hands stretched out towards you. Most people feel guilty and give money to such children. And others, like me, refuse, knowing that the money will not be useful to the child. I always imagine that there's an industry behind this: some rich guys who look like gangsters traveling around in luxury cars and collecting the children's money. Somehow, the more I see these children in this pitiful situation, the less pity I feel. In the big cities, they sit and do their homework on major streets, in places where lots of people pass by. After a while, I begin to feel nothing towards these children. I know it's not their fault; they may live in very bad situations, they might be hungry or have no place to go. But to stop the begging, the best way is to stop giving money. If you keep on giving money, this industry will get bigger and more children will be forced to beg. You can't save these children that way.

However, there is an organization that offers real help to needy children. Karde?ini Seç (Choose a Brother/Sister), through its website "kardesinisec.com," matches volunteers with "adopted" sisters and brothers.

Last weekend I went to a meeting of the organization's members in Ankara and had the chance to meet the founder, Cengiz Tünay, as well other people who have adopted sisters or brothers. I don't have an adopted sister or brother yet, but one of my friends has, and I try to send gifts to her adopted sister. We send books, clothes and other things a child needs. (It's forbidden to send money-you can only send gifts.) In addition to this, adopted sisters and brothers exchange letters and get a chance to know each other. The volunteers support the children in every way. Being part of someone's life and having a strong effect on it is a great feeling.

Anyone who is interested in personally helping a needy child can log onto www.kardesinisec.com and choose a child to whom you can be a big sister or big brother. The children have been referred by their teachers on the basis of their families' financial needs. You can get in touch with the teachers to receive more information. Right now, there is a huge waiting list of children from 61 cities in Turkey. By the end of the year, the organization plans to reach 81 cities, and more children.

It's a great responsibility, for sure. But I think it's much better than giving money to a child and letting him/her go. You never know what will happen to the children in the streets. Maybe in the future they will be used in more dangerous ways, for example to steal money from your bag or threaten you with a knife. If you really want to help someone, think about helping a needy child.


Gülay Acar (COMD/III)

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