August 24, 2013

Interview with Kimse Yok Mu Foundation’s President Ismail Cingoz

Kimse Yok Mu Foundation (KYM) President Ismail Cingoz spoke on Turkey’s helping hand extending to the world: “We involve approximately 10 thousand volunteers in our efforts. We have 97 thousand families that we have been consistently providing aid for. We are active in 103 countries regardless of their ethnicity, language, faith or color.”

We talked about Turkey’s aid activities with KYM president Ismail Cingoz in the spiritual atmosphere of Ramadan. Cingoz informed us about KYM, which has also adopted the mission of being Turkey’s door of philanthropy opening overseas, at the foundation headquarters in Sultanbeyli district of Istanbul.

How do you define Kimse Yok Mu as its president?

KYM is a door of philanthropy opening overseas. It is our nation’s hand extending all over the world. We are aware of a hadith (prophetic saying) telling that donating repels troubles and calamities. I believe same applies to an entire nation as well as to an individual. Of all the Muslim nations, ours is the one that observes the month of Ramadan most peacefully. I think our nation is reaping the rewards of its efforts to reach out to all nations suffering and those calling out “Is anybody there?” (meaning “Kimse yok mu?” in Turkish) through aid foundations KYM and such.

How many volunteers does the foundation involve in delivering aid?

We worked with a total of 10 thousand volunteers before and during Ramadan. This number includes those from countries that we are active in across the world as well. We aimed to reach out to 1.5 million in Ramadan and to distribute 250 thousand aid packages for those in need.

Targeting 300 thousand families

Who receives aid?

We seek to reach out to those less fortunate in terms of healthcare, education, nutrition, clothing and sheltering. When an application is received, our investigation committee makes an examination on site. In the light of the committee’s report, we determine the form and quality of aid and carry out the follow-up work in an organized fashion.

How many people do you aid on a regular basis?

We currently have 97 thousand recipient families while there are over 300 thousand applications. We haven’t been able to respond to all yet. We’ve strived to channel our nation’s donations to the 300 thousand in the month of Ramadan. The list of families to be assisted is available in our database. We therefore do not ask the question to ourselves: “Who are we going to help?” Aid efforts intended for refugees constitute the most intensive section of our domestic aid activities during Ramadan. We have iftar tents at 22 different locations, seven of which have been serving hot meals, iftar dinners and suhoor. We have targeted 750 thousand nationwide to host at iftar dinners.

Are these efforts intended solely for Hizmet Movement sympathizers?

Our foundation has its specified profile, statutes and regulations. There are legal regulations. Those eligible to receive donations are specified in a clear and transparent way. We are delivering donations justly without discriminating any region, ethnicity or faith community. No individual, group or community is given priority for receiving aid.

Meals for 750 thousand abroad

How many countries have you reached out to?

We have set out targeting 103 countries. We have reached out to people in all of them, regardless of ethnicity, language faith or color. We have reached some through medical aid efforts particularly cataract surgeries and water wells in Africa. We have embraced the orphans in these countries through projects intending orphans. We tried to reach out to them by joining all these efforts during Ramadan. African countries such as Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Niger, Chad; Haiti in South America, Aceh, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Arakan Muslims in Myanmar, Palestine, Egypt, Pakistan and many more. We’ve provided aid packages for 150 thousand families and hot meals for 750 thousand.

“We are able to access tin house neighborhoods thanks to Turkish schools”

Is there rivalry among aid organizations?

There’s no rivalry but a valuable race for good deeds. We share the same stance. We aim for the same goal but try to race for the good deeds along the way.

Are there factors that distinguish you from other organizations in this race?

We are one of the foundations with the most widespread nationwide network in Turkey. Local networks of Turkish schools operating in a great many countries of the world make it considerably easier for us to deliver international aid. Let me give you an example: It is usually impossible to access and deliver aid to the needy in tin house neighborhoods in Kibera region of Kenya. The locals there are quite antipathetic towards whites. They even refer to the white men as “devil.”

“Life is not all about what we live”

Ismail Cingoz related that an artist who volunteered in delivery of aid packages said “There’s so much that we should have seen in the society.”

Did you face any problem delivering aid in Somalia?

There are regions with serious security risks and clashes. Our volunteers have been cautiously delivering the aid. We have had no volunteer to date saying “There are security risks in this or that country and I don’t want to go there” or coming back without fulfilling his/her duty due to problems.

Were they ever threatened by al-Shabaab?

They explicitly declared that they are against the Turkish mission and efforts including humanitarian aid arriving from Turkey. The necessary precautions are being taken. The heinous attack on our embassy took place in the same street where the complex of hospital, school and soup kitchen that we provided permanent aid for is located. One of our volunteers had left the scene only 10 seconds before the blast. They are experiencing difficulties due to terrorism but aid efforts will continue.

What else are they facing?

Shortage of clean water, epidemics particular to the host country, shelter and transportation problems.

“For God’s Pleasure”

So why do they put up with all these difficulties?

Once I deliberately asked one of our volunteers: “You should have a goal or a plan. So why do you put up with these conditions?” “If you had known how great it is to gain the pleasure of God then you would also have known there can be no other ambition or goal greater than that. We are going there to gain for God’s pleasure” was the answer. We have realized that we have been indirectly carrying out a distinctive fellowship project in Turkey. Members from different walks of life who will refuse to come together in the same platforms are now coming together for these efforts and gaining empathy.

We distributed aid packages with the contributions of our artist and politician friends till 3:00 in the morning. “Mom, now I see that life is not all about what we live. And there is so much we should have seen in the society” said a distinguished friend of ours on the phone.

“Gulen has us in his prayers”

Are Fethullah Gulen and community among the foundation’s sponsors?

It’s the pure Anatolian people behind the foundation. Every segment of the society has embraced it. Numerous opinion leaders have embraced our foundation by contributing both financially and spiritually. The Honorable Gulen’s prayers and contributions he makes for several of our campaigns as the first to donate as well mean a lot to us. I can list his donations in the aftermath of Van earthquake, Pakistan flood and Haiti earthquake as examples. We know that the Honorable Gulen has our foundation in his prayers, which we greatly appreciate.

5 TL Aid via 1 SMS

How can those willing to help reach KYM Foundation?

They can donate simply by sending SMS to 5777 from any GSM carrier. They can specify the form and destination of their donations. One SMS is equivalent of aid in the amount of 5 TL. In addition, they can donate with credit card by visiting our website kimseyokmu.org.tr and selecting a campaign or project of their choice. Or they can donate at KYM account at any bank or at our call center 444 45 93.

“They can get tax deductions”

Do you accept monetary donations only?

No, they can be in the form of good or service donations too. Companies and institutions can donate goods of four basic needs, namely clothing, food, hygiene and fuel that they purchase through “food bank” system. They can have tax deductions by documenting 100% of these goods as expenses. Donations in the form of commodity or good are received so much so that they surpass monetary ones proportionally. Finally, companies or institutions again can cooperate with our foundation as a part of social responsibility projects.

Published [in Turkish] on Bugun, 05 August 2013, Monday

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