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Why did you decide to give up your birthday?

Birthdays are about sharing, giving and receiving happiness, love and joy. In October 2015, I was planning to organize a Halloween Birthday Party with my family and friends. About two weeks before my birthday, we were all shaken by the bombing in my hometown, Ankara, as the deadliest terrorist attack in modern Turkish History. Like many people, I was devastated and deeply saddened. I felt powerless from thousands of miles away. I am a very positive person and don’t like the feeling of being incapable. I wanted to transform that negative energy to something positive. One of my guiding principles is a quote from Benjamin Franklin  “Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.” I wanted to light a candle by helping people in need and making a difference in their lives. I decided to cancel my birthday party and encouraged my friends to make donations instead of buying me birthday gifts. Actually, I’m not giving up my birthdays; I’m giving back to people who are more in need of some ordinary things that we are privileged to have.

Why did you pick education to make an impact?

I believe importance of education increased with globalization. We are experiencing interesting times globally. People are being manipulated by authoritarian leaders. I believe EDUCATION is the only and long term solution to develop free minded, democratic, independent future generations. I strongly believe that especially education of women is important. I strongly support the belief “EDUCATE A GIRL, EDUCATE A SOCIETY”. Not only women raise kids and have larger impact in societies but also there are not any women who started a war. We all want to have a prosperous future for our country. What we invest now will pay back later with more educated communities, democratic generations, brighter future and better world.

Why did you choose TPF to realize this project?

TPF has been a very reliable non-profit organization with dedicated staff and volunteers. What they have done so far is the warranty for what they will do in the future. I trust their leaders, support their causes and contribute to their goals. It’s so sad to hear that one third of the Turkish population aged between 15-29 years old are out of school or jobless.  It’s not necessarily their fault to be in that situation. These people are our future. We are all on the same boat. If the boat sinks, we will all sink together. There are millions of underprivileged kids who want to study or college graduates who want to work but they don’t have the opportunities to do so. TPF is doing a great job in reaching out to the people in need and establishing a bridge between them and us – people who want to give. I like and value their story, common values, vision, mission and transparency. I appreciate the dedication and commitment of TPF leaders and volunteers.

What was your birthday wish this year?

Himmm, that I don’t remember. Probably I had couple of wishes so at least one of them might have come through

What’s your favorite birthday cake?

Couple of years ago, I set a personal goal to visit as many countries as my age by the time I die. I love visiting different countries and experiencing different cultures. My best friends know how to surprise me. I take pictures jumping in front of well-known monuments everywhere I go. My best friend, Taylan designed a birthday cake for me collaging these pictures. I truly loved it as it was truly a hard work finding all those pictures and it reminded me all the beautiful places that I had been. I provide a picture here.

What was the best birthday gift you ever received?

I received great birthday gifts over years. I’m fortunate enough to have a great family and friends who like to give and make me happy. I had many birthday gifts in the past which certainly gave me some instant gratifications. However, to be honest, the most meaningful ones are the ones when my friends, embracing my values, generously contributed to the causes I picked. In 2015 we raised $2,140 and provided scholarship to three female university students in Turkey. In 2016 we raised $4,610 to support “Invest in the Future of Turkey” program. These gifts not only inspired my friends and will continue to inspire many others in years ahead, but also they will sustain longer and make a meaningful impact in people’s lives. I encourage everyone to give back. If you want to have a precious birthday gift that will grow over years and change lives then join me in raising funds to give back on your birthdays.

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