How did you celebrate March 8th International Women’s Day? Was it just another day that came and passed by?
It was much more than that for the Orange County Turkish American Community. The community celebrated the day and supported the young women who are truly in need some ten thousand miles away. A fundraiser picnic held on March 11th in Irvine, California benefited the BTF’s Medine Memi Girls’ Empowerment Scholarships Project and raised $1800 for the Medine Memi Memorial Fund.
These funds will provide much needed scholarships for socio-economically disadvantaged young girls in the Southeast Turkey. We extend a special thanks to our youngest donor at the event, Meltem Buyuran, a 9-year old Orange County Turkish School student, who donated all of her savings from her piggy bank during the last two years to the Medine Memi Scholarship Fund. We are also grateful to everyone who attended and offered generous donations and for sharing delicious Turkish dishes at this fundraiser picnic event and making this event a success. This event also marks the formation of a regional circle of supporters for BTF in Orange County, California.
We never met Medine. We never knew her and we never will. And that is precisely why we need to remember her. The disturbing details of the so called “honor killing” of Medine Memi, a 16-year-old young girl from a village in Kahta, Adiyaman in southeast Turkey, that was reported in the news in February 2010, highlighted the terrible injustice that young women are exposed to across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Medine Memi is a teenager who was buried alive by family members after she reported to local police the conditions that her mother, grandmother, and sisters were experiencing. Medine had endured numerous beatings throughout her young life and never received a formal education. In the end, she was killed in a most horrific manner and her family tried to forget she ever existed.
In March 2010, Bridge to Turkiye Fund (BTF) volunteers across the United States came together in a grassroots initiative to create a memorial fund for Medine Memi. The Fund generates scholarships and supports programs in rural Turkey that offer girls more educational opportunities, helping them create better lives for themselves and their families, particularly from Medine’s region of southeastern Turkey. The aim of this program is to keep Medine’s name alive, raise awareness about honor killings, and to promote the education of the young underprivileged girls.
Established as a US wide grassroots initiative by Turkish Americans, Bridge to Türkiye Fund is devoted to mobilizing and generating philanthropic resources benefiting the socio-economically disadvantaged segments of Turkish society. BTF is a 100% volunteer run, charitable non-profit organization. BTF’s contribution to Turkiye in support of children’s education and health care programs has increased year over year from its humble beginnings in 2003, and has reached over $700K as of 2011.
We, BTF volunteers, are passionate about children’s education. We believe that investing in a girl’s education pays major dividends: educated women are healthier, earn more, have fewer children, and contribute to the prosperity of the whole community. BTF volunteers coordinate with reputable NGOs in Turkey to select young women and girls who are eligible for these scholarships.
International Women’s Day may be over for this year, but as we continue to celebrate March as the Women’s History Month in the USA, we can’t help but think about our good fortune and how we can use our good fortune to help others who are not so fortunate. Raising awareness about honor killings and to promote the education of socio-economically disadvantaged, but promising young girls in Türkiye is our first step.
Medine Memi Memorial Fund is our way of raising awareness while giving opportunities back to the deserving young women. Our goal will not be the work of a day or a month. It will be the work of volunteers who passionately believe in providing access to education for underprivileged young girls and women. It will be the work of our generous supporters who believe that “you educate a girl, and you educate a community”.
We invite you to join us in this important campaign and we greatly appreciate your support, generosity, and contributions to this worthy cause. To view more photos from this event or if you wish to join this volunteer’s circle, please visit the link at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/324139457634217/
BTF volunteers in Orange County