World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish doctors say they have learned to look at life through new eyes after offering a helping hand to local people in a number of African countries as part of humanitarian aid efforts, mainly coordinated by the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA).
Dozens of doctors from Turkey spent the Eid al-Adha, the four-day Muslim holiday last month, in African countries such as Cameroon, Tanzania, Somalia, Congo, Kenya, Mali and Sudan as well as countries in other parts of the world such as Haiti to help screening efforts. There, they carried out many health screenings while learning plenty about life.
Güney Aktaş, a doctor who traveled to Cameroon with the İzmir-based Aegean Health Volunteers' Association (EGESADER), said he will never forget how he felt when he gave a feeding bottle to a woman with twins. “It was the first time I participated in health screening efforts. In Cameroon I learned that my profession is universal and I left with nice feelings and memories. We took nearly one ton of medicament, baby food and napkins. There was a mother who had lost her husband months ago with twins there. She needed a feeding bottle so we found one and gave it to her. The twins were ill so we treated them and gave them medicine. At the end of the second day, local authorities gave the keys of the hospital to us. That affected us deeply,” he added.
There has been an increase in the number of Turkish doctors traveling to Africa to carry out health screenings and perform operations in the past few years. The efforts help strengthen ties between Turkey and African countries.
Professor Orhan Gazi Yiğitbaşı, the head doctor at the Tepecik Training and Research Hospital in İzmir, said he felt proud to be a citizen of a strong country and state when he traveled to Africa.
“There we witnessed Turkey's improvement in the health sector. We were there without any financial interest, but we need to lend a strong hand to Africa," the professor stated.
According to Şeyda Örs from the Dr. Suat Eren Training and Research Hospital, the African experience reminded Turkish doctors of some values they forgot long ago. “The visit to Africa was a turning point in my life. I learned about giving without expectation. We ate bananas the entire day.”
Another doctor from an İzmir-based hospital, Fevzi Cengiz, said he came to understand that people in Turkey are busy with things that are so small in comparison to the sufferings of people in Africa.
“I traveled to Africa to thank God for what I possess. There, I realized that people in Turkey are so busy with minor daily things. In Africa, people need our help. There was a huge crowd in the hospitals,” Cengiz added.
Alpay Arı, a doctor at the İzmir Training and Research Hospital, extended his thanks to a Turkish school in Cameroon for assisting the Turkish doctors visiting the area. “The people from that school made a great self-sacrifice. An old woman came to my room when I visited a hospital in Cameroon and said she was my mother. I welcomed her and kissed her hand. I treated her and gave her medicine. She also visited me the next day and brought me a vegetable as a gift. At that time, I saw that human values are universal,” he said.