World Bulletin / News Desk
Dr. Bilgehan Guntekin established the All Friends of Africa (TADD) so he would be able to help Africans in every aspect of life.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Guntekin said he volunteered to go to the Central African nation of Chad in October 2014 and was deeply touched by the conditions he saw there. The multidimensional problems in the continent inspired him to found the group, he added.
Before going to Chad, Guntekin was influenced by an iconic photo, taken by late South African photographer Kevin Carter, showing the horrific effects of the 1993 famine in Sudan.
“I was touched by Kevin Carter's photo in South Sudan of a vulture waiting for a child to die... That’s the end of human civilization, I thought," he said.
"I examined and treated patients in Chad for 10 days. I tried to help them as much as possible,” he added.
Saying that he examined thousands of patients during his 10-day stay, Guntekin added: "The number of patients coming was very huge. We worked in difficult conditions, it was 45 degrees, the health center had a dirt floor, and there was no electricity, we were working with generators.
“There were no modern medical devices in the hospitals, we got all the equipment from Turkey. When patients thanked, and I would say to them, 'Please pray for us.'
“Besides all the problems and poverty, the people were very happy and self-reliant. I watched them eating, seven people gathered around a plate and they all ate together, yet they don't complain about their situation.
“When we went there, we took candies for the children, and our friends told us, 'Open the candies when you give them to the kids, they might be seeing candy for the first time in their lives'. One day after I examined a 3-year-old kid, I pointed to the candies for him to take some, and his father said he should take only one. The child took one and left quietly. They are very disciplined.''
Guntekin told how sad he got when he learned that Chad has only one ear, nose, and throat doctor in the entire country. The area of Chad is one-and-a-half times bigger than Turkey -- with a population less than one-third -- but it only has two gynecologists, three pediatricians, and eight eye specialists.