The general secretary of Turkey’s biggest international humanitarian non-governmental organisation – Kimse Yok Mu, (a Turkish parlance meaning in English “isn’t there anyone”) has disclosed plans to extend the charity’s operations to The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone amongst other West African countries.
Savas Metin was speaking Thursday to a delegation of African journalists during a presentation held at the humanitarian organisation’s head office in Sultanbeyli, the Anatolian side of Istanbul.
The organisation that has a total annual budget of US$300M for the last three years, according to Metin, is currently operating in 109 countries across the world. He informed that it has in the past engaged in providing help for the needy and giving out meat to Gambian communities, but added that they now want to help on a larger scale.
“We have helped orphans by providing meat supply to Gambia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone among others but we are hoping to extend our projects in these countries. We will do feasibility studies first and see what we can do. We also partner with governments and the different embassies that have an office in Turkey, and we act based on the information we get from them,” Metin added.
The organisation, he further indicated, has a total of 40 branches in Turkey employing at least 400 staff. He disclosed that the charity that started as a television programme after the Turkish earthquake in 1999 is now involved in humanitarian aid and the fight against inequality. Through its activities, he noted, the charity has installed water pumps and constructed schools and hospitals across several countries mostly in Africa.
“We are currently constructing four hospitals in four different countries -Somalia, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia and each of these hospitals will have a social complex and a dormitory. We have already built 31 schools across the world and have performed over 17,000 cataract surgeries for free. This year, we are targeting 35,000 cataract surgeries. We also have another project in Pakistan where we built a whole town with 296 buildings and gave it to the beneficiaries,” he highlighted.
First NGO to respond to Typhoon Haiyan
Speaking further, Metin told the gathering that when Typhoon Haiyan erupted in Philippines on November 8th, his organisation swiftly responded two days later with a team of “professional doctors” to provide medical and humanitarian assistance to the victims.
According to him, the association has already commenced the construction of new houses that will be handed over to the beneficiaries once completed. He further disclosed that another project that the organisation has recently undertaken is to collaborate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide credit and debit cards to 2900 families and 17,000 individual Syrian refuges. “We think human beings are very important and we want to help in any way we can and sometimes when I put myself in their situation, I know it can happen to anyone. We also have a lot of help from our volunteers because in Turkey alone, we have about 45,000 and 100 of them are involved in the Syria project,” he further added.
History of Kimse Yok Mu
According to General Secretary Metin, Kimse Yok Mu started as a television programme in Turkey after the 1999 Turkish earthquake. The word Kimse Yok Mu, he explained, translates to ‘isn’t there anyone’, coined from the word they used to provide assistance to victims. He added that in January 2002, things became bigger for them and that was the time when they started the NGO.
Metin disclosed that their main source of funding is from the Turkish community through promotional mobile calls and sms’ that fetched them over $3million dollars within three days during the Philippine disaster. He concluded by stating that they also partner with other business organisations that assist them financially.