Melek Gençoğlu

Melek Gençoğlu

“A child’s smile is worth more than everything in the world.”

The scenarist of popular TV series of recent years such as Yaprak Dökümü, Aşk-ı Memnu, Fatmagül’ün Suçu Ne, Kuzey Güney and Medcezir, Melek Gençoğlu is at the same time one of the donators of Darüşşafaka.

“I chose Darüşşafaka to donate for children because I know where my donation goes and I trust Darüşşafaka as an institution.”

she says.

The scenarist of popular TV series of recent years such as Yaprak Dökümü, Aşk-ı Memnu, Fatmagül’ün Suçu Ne, Kuzey Güney and Medcezir, Melek Gençoğlu is like a “fairy godmother” who likes children so much and supports Darüşşafaka from the heart. Being a “Parent Donator” by covering the education needs of a student who is studying at Darüşşafaka, for one year within the scope of the “Darüşşafaka Seeks Its Parents” programme, Gençoğlu offers her support on every occasion. Being a volunteer ambassador of Darüşşafaka in the television world, she at the same time gives a place to the introduction of Darüşşafaka in the series the scenario of which are written by her. Through Gençoğlu who made an announcement of the Darüşşafaka Entrance Exam, a lot of students who have the necessary requirements to apply for the exam and a lot of people who believe in the mission of equality of opportunities in education of Darüşşafaka have been reached. Considering the power that television has gained today, this meaningful support makes her the parent of all Darüşşafaka students, not just of one. She already says “I feel as if all 945 students in Darüşşafaka were my children. A child’s smile is worth more than everything in the world.”

 “I completely trust Darüşşafaka” 

Saying that she has known about Darüşşafaka since her childhood, she shares that her uncle with whom she unfortunately did not have the chance to meet, had studied at Darüşşafaka. Saying “I chose Darüşşafaka to donate for children because I know where my donation goes and I trust Darüşşafaka as an institution.” she adds “I wanted my children to study with whatever opportunities that I could afford so far and did not let them be deprived of anything. However, there are a high number of children who are deprived of those opportunities in our country… Darüşşafaka provides these children just what they need. Do you know what impressed me the most about Darüşşafaka?

I read in the newspaper that Darüşşafaka assumed to the responsibility of taking care of girls whose fathers died on a wedding day massacre in Bilge Village of Mardin. After that incident, I began to donate to Darüşşafaka on a regular basis.” Sharing that making children happy makes her glad as well Gençoğlu, never giving up supporting Darüşşafaka, shares her feelings with us “It is necessary to do something for these children. I wish everyone did. I am ready to give any kind of support that I can manage.”

 “I feel as if all 945 students in Darüşşafaka were my children.”

“I am attached to Darüşşafaka from the heart. I feel as if all 945 students in Darüşşafaka were my children because they are the children of this country… A child’s smile is worth more than everything in the world.” she says and makes them smile. “I want them to have a good education and to be loyal to their country. The first year when my elder son went to the USA, there was published a news on the Republic Day in Hurriyet New York with the title “Aytuğ Gençoğlu told the Americans about Atatürk and the Republic on 29th of October.” with a picture of him on the rostrum having a huge Turkish flag on the one side and the picture of Atatürk on the other … That moment was incredible for me. I said to myself “He has been worth to all my efforts”. Lastly, she said “I am feeling relieved as I have educated my children. I am sure that you will also do the same and our 945 children know this as well. My mind is at peace about it.”


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Eser Teker

Eser Teker

A Darüşşafaka Donator: Eser Teker

Being among the donators through testament, of Darüşşafaka that changes the lives of orphans through education, Eser Teker is a person who is sensitive to social issues and makes an effort for the resolution of social problems. Donating to Darüşşafaka 26 years ago through her testament, Teker is the youngest of 3 children of Burhaneddin Teker who participated in the Battle of the Dardanelles and later assumed duty in the structuring of the new Republic.

Eser Teker, born in 1933 in Ankara, spent her childhood and youth in different provinces due to her father’s profession. She started primary school in Erzurum and finished it in Gaziantep while starting the secondary school in Çanakkale and finishing in Tekirdağ. When she came to high school age, Burhaneddin Bey registered his daughter to Çamlıca Girls Boarding High School where she was aspiring  to study a lot, even though he continued his duty travelling from province to province.

Serving as a governor in Ağrı (1935-1939), Mersin (1939-1941), Erzurum (1940-1941), Gaziantep (1941-1945), Çanakkale (1945-1946), Tekirdağ (1946-1949) and Kocaeli (1950-1951),  Burhaneddin Bey is a graduate of  Saint Joseph High School and the Political Sciences Department of Ankara University. 

Having constructed the first stadium named after his name in Gaziantep, Burhaneddin Bey was assigned as a governor to Çanakkale where he fought in 1915, thirty years after the war.

Dedicating his life to charity works and coming to the rescue of everyone in need, Eser Teker entered the Economics Department of Istanbul University after high school, upon her father’s encouragement. After her graduation, she started her career at İş Bankası and was retired from there.

Saying that her father died in 1956, she adds

“I started to live with my mother when my father died. Her name was Bedia and she was the daughter of a soldier. She graduated from Ğstanbul Girls High School, learnt the new alphabet and worked as a teacher for a while. However, she was fighting with serious illnesses in the last stage of her life thus I looked after her for 23 years. I have always wanted to take part in the resolution of social issues but couldn’t spare enough time for that while taking care of my mother. After her death, I participated in Lions Club in 1981 and took part in a lot of charity works.”

Noting that she had a very special relationship with her father, Teker says

“We would talk about everything with my father. Born in 1893, he graduated from Saint Joseph High School and was speaking French very well. Later, he entered the Political Sciences Department of Ankara University. After his death, I gave his diploma, bearing the sultan’s signature on it, as a gift to the Political Sciences Department of Ankara University. Participating in the Battle of the Dardanelles as a clerk corporal, he also served as the translator of a General. Around the 18th of March 1951, I was studying at Çamlıca Girls High School and my father was a governor to İzmit. I and my elder brother went there to participate in the Commemoration Ceremony for Çanakkale Martyrs. One of the prominent poets of the Republican period, Behçet Kemal Çağlar asked my father to tell him about his memories in Çanakkale. Then, he told us his memories in the Battle of the Dardanelles. A countryman among the audience stood up and said “I also was a soldier like you in the same place.” Then, my father approached that man and hugged him tightly. The audience couldn’t help crying. Upon this incident, Behçet Kemal Bey wrote a very meaningful article about this. I still keep it.

Another memory that I remember about my father is that the Prime Minister Recep Peker and the poet Behçet Kemal Çağlar visited our house when my father was a governor in Gaziantep. I was getting ballet classes at that time. Recep Peker said he watched me dancing and really liked it. When he suggested my father that I should have a proper education in this field, my father said “She had better have a profession first and then she can dance.”

Donating to Darüşşafaka in 1985 through her testament, Eser Teker shares

“I know that Darüşşafaka provides the orphans an opportunity to have a quality education. In 1985, the Society was headquartered in Şişli. I went there with my cousin and donated my wealth in my testament. They are visiting me in religious festival days and calling to ask after me on holy nights. This affection makes me really happy.”

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Mübeccel Çadırcıoğlu

Mübeccel Çadırcıoğlu

“I gladly leave all my wealth to Darüşşafaka”

“I gladly leave all my wealth to Darüşşafaka”

A different way of donating to Darüşafaka is to donate through testament. In the case of donation through testament, a type of donation that becomes valid upon the death of that person, the testator can use or sell his/her assets however he/she wants or withdraw his/her testament. Donator Mübeccel Çadırcıoğlu is one of those benevolent people… Despite having an apartment at Şenesenevler Residence, she continues to live at her house most of the time.

Born in 1937 to a family that immigrated to İzmir from Rumelia, Mübeccel was named after Mübeccel Namık who was selected as Miss Turkey in 1930. Losing her father when she was 3 years old, Mübeccel says “For being an orphan myself, the service that Darüşşafaka provides to these children has a special meaning for me.” Continuing Ankara University, the Faculty of Language, History and Geography (DTCF) after finishing primary and secondary schools in İzmir, Çadırcıoğlu summarizes her life story “I have never worked in that field. My husband was a senior civil engineer. In 1960s, we worked in Ereğli Iron - Steel Factory together. Later, we moved to Istanbul.”

 “What am I going to do when I get old?”

Mübeccel Çadırcıoğlu tells us that she heard about Darüşşafaka when she was conducting examinations in nursing homes for Darülaceze Foundation for which she served a lot of years in the board of management. “I worked in the board of management of Darülaceze Foundation from 1990s till the beginning of 2000s. We as a foundation, decided to build a nursing home for the elderly. Afterwards, I was charged with inspecting the existing nursing homes throughout Turkey. At that point, I met Darüşşafaka. I visited Yakacık Residence that was just opened to service, for inspection and I really liked it. I don’t have any child. Do you know this song that says: “I can’t help shivering when I look at my future as if it was a criminal.” I feel worried too when I think about my elderliness because if you don’t have anyone beside you, having a lot of money doesn’t mean anything in this life. When I saw Darüşşafaka Yakacık Residence, all my fears came to an end. It was a marvellous place where I could live comfortably. I also was aware of the change that Darüşşafaka made in the lives of orphan children from low income families, through education. We thought about it with my husband and decided to leave all of our wealth to Darüşşafaka. Thus, we would avoid the fears of what we are going to do when we are old and at the same time do a big favour to the children of this nation and ultimately to our country.”

“Darüşşafaka was with me in my hardest times”

Being the donator of Yakacık Residence with her husband, Çadırcıoğlu became devastated upon his sudden death: “My husband suddenly felt sick while we were having dinner at our friends’ house in Bodrum. Doctors said there was nothing they could do for him. I nevertheless wanted to take him to Istanbul but didn’t know how. I thought of Darüşşafaka and called them. They immediately arranged a helicopter. We were involved in a very carefully organized plan. However, he could not make it. I can never forget the support that Darüşşafaka gave me at those hard times.”

“It gives me a feeling of security”

Not wanting to stay at Yakacık Residence after the death of her husband, Çadırcıoğlu moved to Şenesenevler Residence and now continues to live in her home. “Nevertheless, Şenesenevler gives me a great sense of security. For example, I was unwell a few days ago and visited Darüşşafaka. They did all the medical screening so I did not need to do anything else. When I have a little problem, I visit them and get a very brilliant service. I am thinking of living there for good. Now, I can meet all of my needs myself but one needs to think of the old ages of course.” 

 “There is no better place in this field in Turkey.”

Having the opportunity to inspect many nursing homes for the elderly due to her duty at Darülaceze Foundation, Mübeccel stresses that she has not encountered a better service than that of Darüşşafaka: “You donate to Darüşşafaka once and never think about the water, electricity or heating bills in return for this donation. They wash and iron your clothes, cook your meals which I really enjoy. Imagine, they are serving deserts after every meal; I do not have that luxury even at my home. Thus when I stay there, I put on weight. You are under health coverage all through your life. In short, it is a perfect place and there is no better institution in this field in Turkey.”

Visiting Darüşşafaka Education Institutions as well and being really impressed by them, Mübeccel Çadırcıoğlu says “They are raising wonderful children. It is an institution that looks after their students one by one as if every child is receiving a private education there. For example, children are getting the lessons of whichever musical instrument they like; they learn foreign languages and gain specific hobbies. I have watched a waltz performance of the students and cried my heart out thinking “I will die in peace as I have done such a nice thing in this life and I will not have spent my life in vain. At least, my wealth will be used for a good purpose. I am proud of the students of Darüşşafaka and am gladly leaving all my assets to for their benefit.”

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Necla Koperler

Necla Koperler

“I wish there were a lot more institutions like Darüşşafaka”

The number of benevolent people who donate to Darüşşafaka through testament are increasing every day. Leyla and Necla Koperler are among these people. Born in 1922 in İstanbul, her life stretches to the USA after Europe following her ambassador father. Necla is the elder of the two daughters of Tevfik Kamil Koperler who was one of the architects of the Treaty of Lausanne and one of the diplomats that Atatürk trusted the most. He also assumed several important duties in the history of Republic. He was secretary-general and consultant in Lausanne Conference, he was the founder of Anadolu Agency (AA), Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to Sofia (1931 - 1934), Madrid (1934 - 1939) and Belgrade and a father who did his best for the education of his daughters.

The other daughter of Tevfik Kamil Bey, Prof. Dr. Leyla Zileli who died 2 years ago is the founder of the Psychiatry Department of Hacettepe University and the first psychiatrist having a US Diploma, in Turkey. Raising numerous psychiatrists in Turkey, Leyla donated before her death to Darüşşafaka that her mother always mentioned with respect, through testament. After her beloved sister, Necla took the same decision and made a donation to Darüşşafaka.

Daughters of an ambassador of the Republic
After the Treaty of Lausanne was signed, Tevfik Kamil Bey was charged in the population exchange commission and was assigned as ambassador to Sofia, Madrid and Belgrade successively. Necla tells about those years with these sentences: “When my father was assigned as an ambassador to Sofia, we also went together with him. He was giving a high importance to our education. Previously, we were studying at an English school in İstanbul but there were not any English school in Sofia thus we were sent to a French school. We already had a French tutor at home. I can even say that Leyla learnt French before learning Turkish. After Sofia, my father was assigned to Madrid, later to Belgrade as an ambassador. Of course, we followed him again. However, this time there were not any French school in Belgrade thus we continued our education at home. When we returned back to Turkey, we went to Notre Dame de Sion and graduated from there. Subsequently, Leyla entered the Faculty of Medicine and I to the Faculty of Law.

Back to Turkey after 20 years in the USA
After graduating from the Faculty of Law, Necla began to work in the Turkish - American Community Center and went to the USA in 1958. She participated in various education programmes there and later, she worked as a guidance teacher for university students and later for delinquent children. Coming back to Turkey in 1978 upon a sudden health problem of her mother, Necla says “My father had died when I was in the USA. I immediately came back when my mother felt sick. My workplace gave me a break of 2 years, thus I went back to Turkey and got used to living there. I realised that I couldn’t leave her again as her illness continued. For this reason, I never returned to the USA.

The first psychiatrists having a USA diploma, in Turkey: Leyla Zileli
Graduated in 1950 from the Faculty of Medicine of İstanbul University, Leyla got married Prof. Dr. Turgut Zileli, her classmate from the same faculty, in 1953. She completed her major education in psychiatry in the same faculty in 1955. Despite being one of the assistants that İhsan Şükrü Aksel trusted the most, she went to the USA and studied psychoanalysis there, when they said she would not be given a place in the institution (in İstanbul). Entering to the Kansas City Psychiatric Receiving Center as an assistant in 1957, Leyla began her formal psychoanalysis education programme in 1959 at New York Postgraduate Center and received her psychoanalyst diploma in 1962. After those very successful years as a student of Wolberg, she was proposed to stay in the institution as an educator, however she preferred coming back to Turkey. She opened a clinic in Şişli, İstanbul and later, was invited to Hacettepe University by Prof. Dr. İhsan Doğramacı who was trying to establish the Faculty of Medicine of Hacettepe University at that time. Being an Associate Professor of Psychiatry in 1965, Leyla was granted the title of professor in 1970.

Why Darüşşafaka?
We listen the story of how the path of Prof. Dr. Leyla Zilel who died on 24th June 2008, crossed with Darüşşafaka, from her sister Necla: “It was our mother’s will; she wanted us to donate to Darüşşafaka before she died. So, when Leyla learnt about her illness, she fulfilled this will of our mother through our lawyer Yüksek Karaburçak. After Leyla’s death, I had the opportunity to get to know Darüşşafaka better. We already knew about the respectable people who were educated in Darüşşafaka. There are various examples in Turkey if one needs to see how Darüşşafaka raises its students.” Noting that Darüşşafaka has been very successful in the field of education, Necla says “I wish there were a lot more institutions like Darüşşafaka. They can help Turkey to make a breakthrough

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Nevin Arıkan

Nevin Arıkan

May there be any bigger kindness on earth?

Coming from a family the roots of which lies to the Ottoman Palace, benevolent Nevin Arkan is among the people who donated to Darüşşafaka through her testament. Yahya Efendi, great grandfather of Arkan, served as a scholar who taught II. Mahmut and her grandfather Ziyaeddin Efendi as the Shaykh al-Islām . Still living in the Yahya Efendi Mansion constructed by her great grandfather 200 years ago, Arkan begins her words “As I was born after the declaration of Republic, my parents named me Nevin which means new.”

Born in 1930 in İstanbul, Nevin Arkan summarizes her life with these sentences

“My father, grandfather and great grandfather are all from İstanbul. Our great grandfather Yahya Efendi was the teacher who raised Sultan Mahmut (II. Mahmut). As for the son of Yahya Efendi, Ziyaeddin Efendi is Shaykh al-Islām and his son, Amir Bey is my father. Both my mother and grandmother on my father’s side are courtiers. My grandmother worked as a music teacher for the women in palace and was playing piano really well. Yahya Efendi used to have a big house with garden in Cağaloğlu. He used to live there in winters while in summers he was moving to the residence in Kandilli. Of course, there were no passenger ferries back then. They were travelling by boats. Unfortunately, the residence in Kandilli was devastated in a fire. Afterwards, Yahya Efendi had this mansion constructed approximately 200 years ago. I was born in this mansion. I studied primary and secondary schools in Kandilli. As for the high school, I studied it at Yeni Kolej (New College) in Taksim which was open back in our times. Later, I entered State Academy of Fine Arts. I was interested in painting. At the academy, I received lessons from prominent teachers like Şefik Bursalı and Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu. In 1950, I graduated from the academy and got married the same year.”

Saying that her deceased husband Senai Bey also came from a courtier family, Arkan shares “My husband had studied in Faculty of Literature but never worked in this field. My elder daughter  studied at Sainte Pulchérie High School and the younger one, Serra studied in the academy and became an artist like me.

Working at Beykoz Secondary School as an art teacher, Nevin gave up teaching when her children were born. However, she continued painting and participated in a lot of art exhibitions. Focusing more on painting after the death of her husband, she joined Mesut Eren Atelier.  Interested especially in oil painting, Arkan makes nature paintings.



Arkan explained the reason why she made a donation through testament to Darüşşafaka with an old memory: “I had an uncle named Veysi Konuralp who was like a father to me and whom I really liked. We were actually cousins but I was calling him ‘uncle’. I lost my father when I was 5 years old. Thus, Uncle Veysi became like a father to us. When he died in 1943, students from Darüşşafaka came to his funeral because Uncle Veysi had donated a vast land in Valide Sultan before his death, to Darüşşafaka.  Just at that time, I heard of Darüşşafaka. I have never forgotten the respect, the sincere behaviour that those little children showed at the funeral even though a lot of years have passed since then. Some of our relatives went to court, with claims on that land. There were even people who suggested me to file a case in this regard to claim a right, but I have always said “I gladly leave it for those children.” Since then, I have a great sympathy for Darüşşafaka. Later, I have met many dignitary people who studied there. All of them are really respectable. Thus, the idea of making a donation to Darüşşafaka that I have always kept in mind has become mature in time. After the death of my husband, I decided to put this decision into practice and made a donation to Darüşşafaka through my testament.”

Noting that her daughters also respected this decision of hers, Nevin Alkan shares:

“My younger daughter also thinks of donating to Darüşşafaka through testament because I donated to Darüşşafaka through testament 20 years ago and in this period, I had the chance to get to know Darüşşafaka better. I have seen what a reliable institution it is and the dimension of the services that it provides. They are visiting me on every festival and asking about my health and how I am doing. In short, they are doing a very big favour. They are raising brilliant students by holding the hands of orphans who probably would not be able to continue their education otherwise and they are giving those children a great chance through education. Is there any bigger kindness on earth?

Darüşşafaka is doing a great job for this country, for this nation. Just consider, which one is worth for leaving all your wealth: a relative who never calls you and would not even pray for you after your death, or Darüşşafaka. Everyone knows that Darüşşafaka is loyal to its donators.”


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Sacit Omay

Sacit Omay

“Darüşşafaka is a very successful institution and raises its students very well.”

The children of deceased Yahya Omay who worked as both mathematics teacher and the deputy principal of Darüşşafaka between the years 1952 - 1957, Sacit Oktay, Eren, Uğur and Saime Omay have followed the footsteps of their father who gave a great service to Darüşşafaka and have maintained their supports up to present.  Upon the testament of their deceased sister Nur Omay, Omay brothers donated her wealth to Darüşşafaka to change the lives of orphans through education.  One of the members of the Executive Board of Şenpiliç, operating in the poultry sector for 33 years and taking place among the 500 biggest industrial organisations of Turkey, Sacit Oktay Omay was born in 1938. After graduating from the Civil Engineering Faculty of Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ), he worked as a civil engineer for a long time. In 1980, he entered poultry sector and became a partner to Şenpiliç established in 1979, together with his brothers. 

Knowing about Darüşşafaka since his childhood due to his deceased father’s profession at Darüşşafaka at that time, Sacit Omay says “My father worked as a teacher both at Vefa High School and at Darüşşafaka. We would occasionally visit Darüşşafaka High School in 

Fatih with my father. Thus, a bond was formed between us and the institution. At that time, Darüşşafaka High School was among the most prominent high schools in Turkey. Leading the education sector, it was giving a very quality education to its students. It was distinguished from other schools not only with this aspect but also through the support  it gives to sports field. It had a very strong basketball team that was among the top ones of that time. It had a very good image. Also, due to my father’s working at such a good institution, we were always close to Darüşşafaka.

We always heard from our father what a perfect institution Darüşşafaka was and he was very glad to have had the chance to work there. He would always remember the years he spent at Darüşşafaka. He was both serving as deputy principal and mathematics teacher. From time to time, he would even stay there at nights. I remember him always saying that he was happy with the students and that Darüşşafaka gave a very quality education to them. He also had quite nice and respectful students. They were occasionally visiting my father. Then, I was going to secondary school and was seeing the Darüşşafaka High School in Fatih as a very big institution. It indeed was very big and distinguished from other schools when we compared its building, facilities, and education opportunities with those of other schools.”

Noting that he never broke his ties with Darüşşafaka, Sacit Omay says: “We have never forgotten Darüşşafaka. We can see how it has developed through years. 

especially interested in sports and thus know the conditions at Darüşşafaka for sports activities as I am a member of Darüşşafaka Sports Club. It is a very good facility for training students. It is developed and provides a lot of opportunities. I also went there for doing sports for many years; I played tennis and swam there. Thus, we found some solutions to maintain our ties with Darüşşafaka. Lastly, upon the death of our beloved youngest sister Nur Omay and according to her testament, we donated all her wealth to Darüşşafaka. We made her wish come true.”

Covering the education expenses of a student studying at Darüşşafaka for 10 years, Sacit Omay said that they felt very proud to be a “graduate donator” with these sentences: “We have known Darüşşafaka for a long time. Through this donation, we had the chance to be notified about the studies and achievements of Darüşşafaka students, more closely. This is a genuine proud for us. We have seen once again that Darüşşafaka is a very successful institution and raises its students very well. I wish that our orphan sisters and brothers who are studying there have this awareness and always make an effort for the better.”

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Sevgi Divitçioğlu

Sevgi Divitçioğlu

“I am sure they will look after us well, because I saw how my mother was nursed”

The family tree of painter Sevgi Divitçioğlu - who is granddaughter of the first Turkish woman photographer, Ms. Naciye (Suman), niece of Sculptor Prof. Dr. Nusret Suman, the creator of Hittite Sun that is one of the symbols of Ankara, spouse of economist Prof. Dr. Sencer Divitçioğlu, R.I.P.- holds very interesting life stories. Her father is Hidayet Demirkuşak, who established Department of Music at Ankara State Conservatory upon request of Atatürk and the second violin of Presidential Symphony Orchestra, as called today. Her mother Nedret Ekşigil, on the other hand, has always pulled her life’s strings just like Ms. Naciye and passed away at the age of 103 at Darüşşafaka Maltepe Special Care Unit and lived a life of which most people cannot even dream. Sevgi Divitçioğlu, who is a donator of Darüşşafaka both for will and residence was born in 1930 in Ankara.

The story of Ms. Naciye, the first Turkish woman photographer: 

Sevgi Divitçioğlu, who first started to talk about her grandmother, Ms. Naciye, with whom she lived her childhood and youth: “My grandfather, Mr. Ismail Hakkı, learned photography in Vienna where he had lived for a while. He brought his materials of photography with him when he returned to Istanbul and turned the penthouse of Sait Paşa Mansion in Yıldız, Beşiktaş into an art studio. Thanks to my grandfather, everybody in the family learned photography. But my grandfather could not stay in Istanbul for a long time. He went to one battlefront after another when World War I started. As the state could not pay salaries of soldiers, the family made their living by selling stuff from the house. My grandmother was an intelligent woman. She opposed to it and said: “Why can’t I work and earn our living?” Then she considered opening a house of photography. The next day, she hanged a board on the door of the mansion: “Women’s House of Photography -Naciye”. My grandmother earned a lot of money from this business because there was nowhere else to take women’s pictures. The wives of the soldiers particularly came to her. They could comfortably take off their veils and pose for the pictures without wearing any headscarves for sending them to their husbands. My grandmother had continued to work until I was born.”

Famous Tailor: Nedret Ekşigil

After her daughter Nedret was married, moved to Ankara, and gave birth to her granddaughter, Ms. Naciye closed her house of photography in 1930, and devoted herself to her granddaughter Sevgi. Ms. Sevgi, saying that she lost her grandmother in 1970, stated that her mother, Nedret Ekşigil, was one of the most famous tailors of those times, and added: “I was born and attended primary school in Ankara. Then, I came to American High School in Bağlarbaşı unwillingly. I was the only child in the family and they loved me a lot. So, it was hard for everybody. When I was studying at the College, my mother visited me one day and asked what I would say if she got divorced with my father. My mother was a famous tailor at that time. She was sewing dresses for the wives of ambassadors, members of parliament and bureaucrats. After taking my opinion, my mother was divorced with my father and came to Istanbul.

She rented a shop in the Yeni Han [in English: New Inn] of Vehbi Koç with a great courage. Even Vehbi Koç asked who this Turkish woman was and met with my mother and congratulated her. In those years, working women were not appreciated. My mother boomed like a bomb in Istanbul. My uncle, Nusret Suman, had excellent connections with the artists.

We became friends with Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu, Adalet Cimcoz, Adalet’s brother Ferdi Tayfur, Peride Celal, Nazım Hikmet’s wife Münevver and many others, thanks to my uncle. Münevver, Peride Celal and Adalet Cimcoz were close friends of my mother. We used to go to Le Bon every evening. We were always together because my mother never let me alone. I met with Orhan Veli, Sait Faik, Abidin Dino, and Yahya Kemal. When I was at the tenth grade, I attended academy by leaving college. Those were the best days of my life. I was a student of Bedri Rahmi. I got married in 1950, and then, we went to Paris with my husband. I studied Art History in Paris.” 

“What if Nazım comes?”

Ms. Sevgi, stating that they met with Prof. Dr. Sencer Divitçioğlu in Uludağ, added: “We were living at Mısır Apartment. I was looking out of the window when we got back from Uludağ. Then I saw that Sencer was passing on the street, I immediately called out for him. I had an invitation for masquerade ball organized by the academy at the end of the year. I asked him whether he would like to go to the ball with me. And when he accepted, I dropped the invitation down from the window. Then, I was engaged with Sencer.” 
One of Ms. Sevgi’s unforgettable memories is about a famous painter, Abidin Dino: “After the coup of 1980, Sencer was dismissed from the university and he was notified that he could not work at a public institution. At that time, we were in France. Some French people told us that they could give us asylum if we wish. Abidin Dino was our friend and we asked his opinion about the situation. Abidin said that he was in France for many years, but he had not been a French citizen, and we did not accept their offer.”

Lives coinciding at Darüşşafaka

Sevgi Divitçioğlu, who first learned about Residences of Darüşşafaka when she visited her school friend, Nesrin Yılmaz, living in Yakacık Residence, narrated the process as follows: “We had a small trip in the Residence with Nesrin. I liked the Residence a lot. Then, a close friend of my mother, Mr. Adnan (Damcı), came to my mind because he was living alone. My mother was taking care of everything for him. I took a brochure for him. At first, Mr. Adnan did not really want it, but then he called me and said that he wishes to see the Residence and I took him there. As soon as we got there, he immediately bought a flat at Maltepe Residence. And then my mother also wanted to buy one too as she did not want to be a burden on me when she got older. It really happened as she thought so. She was nursed very well. I was not worried as long as she was there. I could always watch my mother on the Internet.”

Ms. Sevgi, saying that they became donators of Yakacık Residence with her husband afterwards, finished her words by adding: “I do not know whether we will also go and live there or not, but if we get ill like my mother, we will definitely go. I am sure they will look after us well, because I saw how my mother was nursed.”

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Süreyya Pasha

Süreyya Pasha

A life dedicated to charity works: Süreyya Pasha

Among the donators of Darüşşafaka, continuing its services through the donations of benevolent people since 1863, Süreyya İlmen also known as Süreyya Pasha is a person who will be remembered in the future through the services he gave and the charity works he did. Bringing Süreyyapaşa Chest Diseases and Chest Surgery Training and Research Hospital that has given remedy to thousands of sick people; Süreyya Opera House that is among the top culture centres of Istanbul; Süreyya Beach that people of Istanbul have used for years and many other facilities to Istanbul, he became a benevolent leader in municipal services.

He took part in the establishment of an aviation organisation
Leading numerous cultural, social, education and sports initiatives, Süreyya Pasha was born in 1874 in Patgoriçe, Yugoslavia as the son of Ms. Adviye and Rıza Pasha who served as the chief of staff for II. Abdülhamit for 17 years. Having 2 brothers named Şükrü and Ziya, Süreyya Pasha continued Kuleli Military High School after primary school and then Military College and Military Academy. He participated in Balkan Wars with the title of Major General. Upon the instruction of Mahmut Şevket Pasha, the then-Head of Military Affairs, he was charged in the establishment of an aviation organisation. In 1909, 8 years after the world, the first flight test was done in the Ottoman Empire with the initiatives of Mahmut Şevket Pasha and Süreyya Pasha, and then other powerful countries also focused on aviation.

One of the first industrialists in Turkey
Leaving the army after the First World War and entering into the business world, İlmen started to run the first private factory of Turkey, without having any government support on 14th February 1914 in Balat and made contributions to economy for years as one of the first industrialists in Turkey. Openning with the name Süreyya Paşa Mensucat Fabrikası (Textile Factory) and later changed into Adalet Mensucat Fabrikası, the factory unfortunately did not manage to come until today.

The heritage left to Darüşşafaka: Süreyya Opera House
Before his death, Süreyya Pasha donated most of his wealth to various institutions. Among these, there was Darüşşafaka Society that has given orphan children who are from low-income families the opportunity to have a quality education, beginning from the Ottoman period through the Republic. İlmen left Süreyya Opera House, the first modern theatre and cinema building of Turkey which was opened in 1927 with a magnificent opening ceremony, as a heritage to Darüşşafaka.

Serving as a movie theatre for years, the building was renovated by Kadıköy Municipality by remaining faithful to its original and opened its doors to art lovers in 2007. After renovation works, the building -where opera and ballet performances also started to be performed- began to serve as the first opera house of the Asian side (Anatolian side) and the sixth of Turkey. Being among the most important culture and art centres of Istanbul, the story of Süreyya Opera House is very interesting: 

Süreyya Pasha, wanting to organize an event for the benefit of a school in Kadıköy during the occupation years, at Apollon Theatre affiliated to a church, felt abashed when they asked for a high amount for reserving the place for that purpose. Upon that incident, Süreyya Pasha decided to construct a modern cinema and theatre building in Kadıköy. Afterwards, taking the theatres in Germany and France as example, he launched the construction of Süreyya Opera House, the first modern theatre building of Turkey. Finalised within two years, the building was opened with a magnificent ceremony on 7th March 1927.

At the entrance of the building, there is a bust Suzan Lütfullah, the mother of stage actress Gülriz Sururi. The then-primadonna Suzan Lütfullah had always played the leading roles in many operetta. The most important of these is, without doubt, Ayşe Operetta composed by Muhlis Sebahattin. Reserved for performances on certain days of the week, Süreyya Opera House hosted the first sound films in Turkey by making the necessary adjustments to show sound films in 1930s. The management of the movie theatre, the summer section of which was opened in 1936, was carried out by Süreyya İlmen himself.

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