By Goncagul Ay, Program Associate of TPF – Friendly faces welcomed me, smiling ear to ear at the Darussafaka Society. The name, “Darussafaka” translates to “clemency nest,” and you feel the compassion, kindness and generosity as you enter the huge school building in Sariyer, Istanbul. Darüşşafaka Society was founded in 1863 with the aim of providing equal opportunity in education to needy and talented children who had lost their one or both parents. As it was my first visit to Darussafaka Society’s office, I was impressed by the passion and hard work each staff member dedicated to Darussafaka’s mission.
Like any other country in the world, children in Turkey who lose a parent(s) at an early age are more likely to drop out let alone afford a good education. According to internationally accepted treaties, every child has a right to education regardless of their financial means and family circumstances. This is what Darussafaka Society works to accomplish – providing a top-notch education to children who otherwise would not have been able to go to school.
Darussafaka does this with the school they established. They invite students to take an entry exam at the age of 10. Students need to achieve a certain score to be admitted to Darussafaka Society. The Society provides full scholarship and boarding from 5th grade to the end of high school. In addition to scholarship and boarding, student’s daily needs such as clothing, accommodation, food, and health services are all covered by donations to the Society. The curriculum is in English while students also learn French or German as a second language. They spend weekends participating in sports and attending cultural and artistic events. They are encouraged to be creative and discover their talents. They are also encouraged to reach their fullest potential. Not surprisingly, Darüşşafaka graduates continue their education at the best universities in Turkey and around the world, and become successful professionals later on in their lives. Darussafaka turns the dreams of these parentless children into a reality, thanks to generous donors like you defending a child’s right to a quality education.
After my visit, we received a grant report from Darussafaka Society for a donation one of our donors made. Our donor was an educator and wanted to support college students with financial struggles, providing “equality in education.” It is with these site visits and follow-up reports, we can see and let our donors know the immense difference they are making in the lives of these children. The project our donor funded was one of a kind – providing scholarships to students who want to continue their education by attending a university. Project supports eight university students – Bahar, Besim, Muhammet, Sati, Serdar, Yasin, Fusun and Hayriye to attend university. The scholarship covered all the expenses including academic, housing and their daily needs. We are extremely happy to report that they are doing very well in school.
Given the opportunity, many of the children from Darussafaka exceeded the Society’s expectation and became remarkable, self-confident, and socially responsible individuals. The Society has been producing leading figures in Turkey from Prof. Dr. Rıdvan Cebiroğlu, Turkey’s first child psychiatrist; Osman Nuri Ergin, Turkey’s first city historian and many more. After so many years, Darussafaka Society continues their operations as a strong organization advocating for equal rights to education. Support their efforts.