When my father came home in the evenings, he would wash his injured hands and feet in hot water, and then we would apply cream. “Dad, why don’t you find another job?” I asked one day. “What else does a illiterate person do, my daughter,” he said in a voice that consented to his fate. He smoked a Bafra cigarette, as if he would suppress his hunger for life with the cigarette smoke that he drew deeply. He carried the lack of being able to read in the pen in his jacket pocket in the newspaper he brought home. We would keet his accounts and read the newspaper alternately with my mother.
One day they called from Kızıltoprak Police Station. “Are you Ayten Zara?” asked the voice. I said “yes”. “Your father is at the police station. He wants you, come quickly!” said. I ran in fear. When he saw me, my father bowed his head to the ground. His face was purple and bloodshot! “The people who live in the building next to the building where he works had beat your father for working so loudly!” said the police chief. As if my father had died, a bitter loneliness and compassion covered my body at that moment. I shivered. My eyes filled with tears. I went and hugged my father tightly. My tears mixed with my father’s blood and flowed. This memory hanged on me like a red stain. Back then, I dreamed of World Human Relief. I made a heart out of my father’s blood and sweat, and a life. Thanks dad. And then life gave birth to me…
As a young college student, I worked with traumatized, marginalized, poor people. In my own country and in other poor countries, I have seen people whose souls have been wounded and who are in pain. The further I went, the more intimacy I get. I have witnessed how much people who have nothing can give, that they can share a bite of bread even though they are hungry and thirsty, that they can love affectionately even though their souls are bruised, and that human warmth is as big as the sky.
But I also saw that where there is no love, violence and enmity are common. I have seen people suffering from poverty and deprivation sell their bodies for a bite of bread, the sex industries profiting from this situation increasing and these industries working tirelessly to spread child prostitution. I learned that “love” is the greatest wealth in this life, that those without love are the poorest people, that the most important condition of being “human” is to share pain, poverty and wealth, and that we can build a loving and peaceful world by holding on to people. I wanted to have a “shelter” at a time when we needed to hold on to each other’s humanity and hope for life; I founded World Human Relief. For you… There is a saying of Mevlana that has been in my heart ever since I heard it; “Light a candle in the face of pain, you will rise like the sun…” With love and solidarity,
With love and solidarity,