BENEFITING: US Association for UNHCR
EVENT DATE: Oct 11, 2015
Dear friends and family,
Some of you know Bodrum like the back of your hand, some of you have been there numerous times, some of you want to go there and some of you have never heard of it. Bodrum is a town in the Southwest of Turkey, where the Aegean and the Mediterranean meet and the azure blue waters are crystal clear. It's gone through many transformations--once an ancient city where one of the seven wonders of the world stood tall and now, a summer destination for almost a million tourists a year.
On a more personal level, Bodrum is a town that I grew up going to every summer. It’s a place synonymous with spotty childhood memories of ice cream, sand castles and plastic buckets filled with sea creatures; high school summers spent with best friends drinking too many shots of fruity cocktails; a place of serenity and most of my family and friends.
But recently Bodrum is a different place. It is also one of uncertainty and dismay. It is a place where where countless refugees from Syria and Iraq huddle on the street, all their belongings squeezed into black garbage bags, waiting their turn until they can get on a dingy that will carry them across 20 km, or 13 miles, to the Greek Island of Kos and then forward onto the northern shores of Europe. It is a place, where on September 2, 2015, little Ayan’s body washed up on its shores along with his brother Galip. He was three, and Galip was five.
For a while now I’ve had a hard time listening to the news. I selectively choose what I want to read, because I find it hard to see and hear what's happening in the rest of the world. I am lucky enough to live and work in New York, and even when I go home to Turkey I bask in the seclusion of Istanbul and Bodrum, sheltered from the reality of the Middle East. I seek joy and hope in my own little world, feeling powerless in the face of a race for global hegemony, ISIS, and radical Islam. It's selfish, I know it. But, I do it anyway.
But, on September 2nd, seeing that photo of little Ayan being carried by a policeman--not just any policeman, but a policeman who protects my country, my shores and my summer town--I felt a sense of responsibility I have forgotten since the days of high school and college. Days when a sense of idealism was stronger than that of powerlessness, and when hope for a better world seemed tangible rather than impossible.
There are currently over 4 million registered Syrian refugees. This figure includes 2.1 million Syrians registered by United Nations Head Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”) in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, 1.9 million Syrians registered by the Government of Turkey, as well as more than 24,000 Syrian refugees registered in North Africa. There are hundreds of thousands who are trying to reach Europe from these destinations; seeking not just a better life but a safe haven from deadly peril.
I had been planning to run the Staten Island Half Marathon on October 11, but with your help I hope to make this more than just a run. It’s not much but it’s a start. In order to help plight of vulnerable children like Ayan and Galip, I will be raising money for the UNHCR. It costs approximately $720 to provide a family with mats, fleece blankets, kitchen equipment and a tent. My goal is to provide as many families as I can with these items as the winter approaches.
Please visit their website to get more information about the crisis: http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php. You can also visit the following websites to learn more about the crisis and donate: Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, International Rescue Committee, World Food Programme, Mercy Corps, CARE.
Thank you all in advance for your support.