İlhan & Afifet Usmanbaş

İlhan & Afifet Usmanbaş

“Darüşşafaka is the closest one to us at this stage of our lives…”

Atifet Usmanbaş was born in 1923, Prof. Dr. İlhan Usmanbaş was born in 1921… Mrs. Usmanbaş, following her passion for opera in 1940’s, took part in many operas for 32 years. Quitting opera at the height of her career, Mrs. Usmanbaş passes her knowledge on the future generations. 

While considering to be an engineer, Mr. Usmanbaş followed his passion for music and is appraised not only in Turkey but also around the world for his compositions...His compositions were awarded many times and Prof. Dr. Usmanbaş was given the title “State Artist”, and continued to educate young generations until 2011. Because of their belief in the importance of education, Mr. And Mrs. Usmanbaş, who are married for 66 years, chose to become both will and residence benefactors of Darüşşafaka. 

Mrs. Usmanbaş, who was born in 1923 in İstanbul starts telling: “since the day I was born, I sang and danced through all my plays. To me, life was to sing and to dance. That was my ideal even when I was four or five. One day, I told my mom “I wish for a school where everything is about singing.” Well, the school I wished for existed in real life, and it was the conservatory...This is a restless feeling and you follow it to where it leads. “Mrs. Usmanbaş who started İstanbul Municipality Conservatory’s Chant Department in 1940, becomes a student of Alice Rosenthal. At the end of the first three months, she sings in a student concert and skips a grade. Between years 1942-1943, she attended Ankara State Conservatory, Department of Chant-Opera: “It was really hard to pass the boarding school exam but I did. Thereby I went to Ankara. I started with tiny roles right away. My teachers noticed the passion within me. I continuously played the head role in my senior year.” After five years of her conservatory education, she graduated in 1948. Mrs. Usmanbaş made it to stage for the first time in 1942: “My first role was in my senior year, a very important role “Micaela” in Carmen. It is very hard. When I was a student I used to sing and dance as “Esmeralda” in Satılmış Nişanlı.”  Mrs. Usmanbaş, who acted in 28 different roles between years 1948 to 1974, was appointed as the chant pedagogue in İstanbul State Opera. 

Mrs. Usmanbaş who left opera at the height of her career and started working in Mimar Sinan University, Department of Chant and Opera as a faculty member says “Professorship is of course very nice...I always showed everything with my voice to children...For instance when I asked a student to sing an opera aria, I used to describe, even act out the character’s aspects to my student. That is why I had great students: the late Zehra Yıldız, Gülay Sözgen, Ahmet Öncül, Sema Tüzün, Ruhsal Öcal, Nilgün Akkerman, Ulya Tekrin Bruks, Sevil Yarar, Zafer Erdaş, Gökhan Ürben…”  

A life dedicated to music: Prof. Dr. İlhan Usmanbaş

İlhan Usmanbaş was born in İstanbul in 1921. His parents move to Ayvalık when he was about two years old because his father, who was a lawyer, chose to work on legal issues in Ayvalık where the echoes of the population exchange were one of the loudest. We grasp the effect of this choice on the great composer from his words: “In those years Ayvalık was a very lively city, a republic on its own. Everybody brought something from different places. Some from Crete, some from Macedonia, some from Mitillini, some from İstanbul...It was a marvellous, nourishing, very beautiful soup of cultures...Of course, growing up in such an environment affected me tremendously.” After completing primary and secondary schools in Ayvalık, Mr. Usmanbaş gets engaged with music via the cello his brother Orhan Usmanbaş brought as a present from İstanbul where he used to study: “My brother brought a cello from İstanbul for me. He showed me how to play a little. Then I started to practice on my own. When I started Galatasaray High Scool, we had a cello teacher. That’s how a practiced and advanced more.”

The story of finding his lifetime companion of 66 years 

After high school, Mr. Usmanbaş continued to İstanbul University Faculty of Literature Department of Philosophy, while at the same time taking cello lessons from Sezai Asal and harmony lessons from Cemal Reşit Rey at İstanbul Municipality State Conservatory. This is where he met his lifetime companion of 68 years, Atifet Usmanbaş: “Atifet was a chant student in İstanbul Municipality Conservatory. I couldn’t attract her attention but she attracted my attention immediately. With great coincidence, I went to Ankara State Conservatory as a boarding student a year before she arrived. So we continued to see each other. We both graduated in 1948, got engaged the same year, then we got married right away.”

Became the headmaster of the school he attended 

İlhan Usmanbaş, who used to study in Ankara State Conservatory in 1942, became the headmaster there in 1964, and was appointed as the headmaster to Istanbul State Conservatory in 1974. In the Conservatory which later became a part of Mimar Sinan University, he worked as the head of the Composition Main Art Branch until 1999. Then he gave composition and modern music classes in Istanbul University State Conservatory and in Center for Advanced Studies in Music of İTÜ. He left his faculty membership in Bilgi University in 2011. Usmanbaş, who is 93, retires himself from teaching. When we ask about his students, he smiles and says: “they are so big now that I cannot name them. Everyone became a professor. Betin Güneş, who is a conductor in Germany, composer and teacher Özkan Manav, Mehmet Nemutlu who writes like an intellectual philosophy professor...” 

“If the music you composed is good, you get your reward” 

İlhan Usmanbaş, who got Fromm Music Award (USA)in 1954, Koussewitzky Award (ABD) in 1958, Wieniawsky Award (Poland) in 1967, Ballet Music Award (Switzerland) in 1969, was awarded with the “state artist” title in 1971. At the same time he has Sevda-Cenap And Music Foundation Golden Medal, International Istanbul Music Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, and Bogazici University Honorary Ph.D. :”I believe that some achievements are common in the world. The world has a musical history that reached upto this day. If the music you composed is good, you get your reward.” 

“We also had a Darüşşafaka education of some sort”

When we ask why they chose Darüşşafaka, Mrs. Usmanbaş replies: “Both of us have worked for years to educate the future generations of our country and we always observed that our nation really needs to be educated. One day, there was a gentleman on television, I was watching him in awe when he said “I am from Darüşşafaka.” I met a very elegant and intellectual lady in a meeting and she said she was from Darüşşafaka. These are the kind of people that Turkey needs. Me and my husband thought deeply about it. Who raised these beautiful, wise, intellectual people? Darüşşafaka. That is why we chose Darüşşafaka. On another note, as the boarding students in conservatory, we also had a Darüşşafaka education of some sort. Otherwise none of our parents would have the courage to send us to Ankara for education during all those years.”  

“If, one day, we cannot take care of ourselves, our place is ready...”

Although they have their own apartment in Maltepe Residence, Mr. and Mrs. Usmanbaş continue to live in their home, saying that they are doing it to guarantee their elder years. At this point Mrs. Usmanbaş says “we saw Maltepe Residence. Darüşşafaka offers a very good service to the benefactors who choose to live there, you can see it once you take a step inside. However, staying there is a new form of life. We don’t yet want to have another routine. However, if one day, we cannot take care of ourselves, our place is ready...That is a huge comfort for us...In any problem we have, we call the residences and they find a solution immediately. Darüşşafaka is the closest one to us at this stage of our lives.”

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Ayhan Göletli

Ayhan Göletli

“They say the residences are five-starred but they are as good as seven-star hotels”

Ayhan Göletli, the Yakacik Residence benefactor, is the youngest of four children of Hulusi Orucoglu who was the former deputy for Sinop in the periods IV, V, VI and XII... Due to her father’s job, Ayhan Göletli spent the early years of her childhood in Ankara. Later on, she got married to Adil Göletli who is a mechanical engineer and she moved to Istanbul. The decision of Ayhan Göletli, who had a crowded and large family, to start living in a residence was not welcomed by her family members at first until they visited the Yakacik Residence together... Ayhan Göletli who stays in her residence or in her own house as she likes says:

“We used to hear about Darüşşafaka and we would always appreciate its works. In fact, my husband used to think about donating our assets to Darüşşafaka.  I heard about the residence from my close friend Professor Doctor Şükran Karacadağ. Şükran got an apartment from the Urla Residence. At that time I had lost my husband.  I have a crowded family but I would not like to become a burden for any of my nephews.  Since Şükran knew about that, she recommended me the residences. I decided to visit the Yakacık Residence. When I first told this to my nephews they objected and said “We can take care of you”.

But I convinced them that this would be the best for everyone and we went to the Yakacik Residence with my nephew. We both were amazed at what we saw. On the way back I said to my nephew, “dear Haluk, I made up my mind, I am going to buy an apartment from the residence”. My nephew said “Auntie, I liked it too. I can even think of one for myself in the future,” and we immediately started the process.  I have become a Yakacık Residence Benefactor in 2007,” she says.

Göletli, who kept living in her own house after becoming a residence benefactor says,

“Since I thought about living there in the future, I have not been to the residence for about 5 or 6 months. But I had an accident. I needed special care after getting discharged from the hospital. Therefore I went directly to the Yakacik Residence clinic after getting out of the hospital. I was very impressed by the care, friendliness and compassion I received there. All the nurses and the doctors were all around me. I went to my room after staying in the clinic section for a month. I liked everything so much that I spent a few more months even though I was healed. After returning home, I started to miss the Residence and the friends I made there. That is why I go there very often and stay. It has become my home too. Now I stay in the Residence or in my house whenever I want. Especially when I get sick I prefer to be taken care of in the residence. Because I can't get that kind of care anywhere else. When I get well, I go back to my house.” 


Göletli stresses that everything is well-thought-through in the residence, “The staff is extremely decent, polite, friendly and compassionate.  They take care of whatever kind of problem we have. They even solve our personal problems. Not to compliment, I am really satisfied with this situation. They say the residences are five-star hotels but I think they are as good as seven-star hotels,” she says.

Göletli who stresses the importance of the education Darussafaka provides for children, ends her words saying: “My husband and I have always thought about donating our assets to Darüşşafaka.  And the Residence did not exist at that time. Because we both believed the importance of education.”

 

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Bedia Akarsu

Bedia Akarsu

We commemorate with gratitude (1921 - 2016)

Bedia Akarsu, who has been living in the Senesenevler Residence since 2007, was born in Istanbul on 27th January, 1921. She did her higher studies in Istanbul University Philosophy Department and she graduated in 1943. She contributed us with the numerous academic researches she made in the fields of language, culture and philosophy of ethics. Bedia Akarsu taught PhD students in Istanbul University Ataturk Institute between 1990 and 1996. These words of hers obviously show that she never lost her energy to work:
“Most of my students became either the head or a professor of the philosophy department. I used to join them up until two years ago. I donated all my books to Muğla University.

Akarsu who indicates that she always closely follows Darüşşafaka’s work says,

“My students taught in Darüşşafaka’s school, too. I think it is a unique school. So I donated to Darussafaka in my will. I will leave my assets to Darüşşafaka when I pass away. They did not have residences back then. As the Yakacık residence was being constructed, the director of the time invited me to stay over, I visited and I loved it. But at that time I was teaching at the university and I was constantly going there. Later on they built the Maltepe Residence. They invited me there, too. But it was very far from the city. I am a city person. I like to be with people. I do not want to live outside the city. I came immediately when they built this one. I am very glad I came,”

she says.

Akarsu, who expresses her respect to Darüşşafaka’s mission to change orphan children’s lives by providing them with education, says “They start giving children a very good quality education at a young age. It is among the institutions which provide the best quality education in Turkey. Unfortunately, the state of the education system in our country is bad. I think it needs to be changed as a whole.

Darüşşafaka has never decreased the quality of education it gives.

In Burgazada, they organize events for Sait Faik every year in May. This year, a children’s choir from Darüşşafaka came to the Sait Faik Memorial Day. They usually don’t have a proper choir at schools. Everyone sings differently. But these kids sang so nicely and successfully that I thought they were like a Vienna choir. The reason why Darüşşafaka’s education system is so good is that it values arts, music and sports. It is not rote-learning based. They include art in education. Arts and music are the lessons given the least importance in the schools in Turkey. I finished high school in the period of Atatürk. When I was a student, they used to give importance to art in schools. The systems started to change and a rote-learning based system was formed. Teenagers growing up in Darüşşafaka are interested in all kinds of art. When art is included in education, it increases its quality,” she says.

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Begüm Erdem

Begüm Erdem

“I wish we could contribute more to Darüşşafaka’s mission”

Begüm Erdem, retired State Opera and Ballet artist, lives in Urla Residence with her husband Mete Erdem. Begum Erdem, who took roles in worldwide known opera shows and who raised numerous young talents like Aynur Doğan and Nilüfer Akbal, was born and raised in Izmir...  

Erdem, who has been living in the Urla Residence since 2008, graduated first from the Izmir School of Music, which later on became a conservatory, and next from the Ankara State Conservatory. She went to Vienna to get her PhD in 1966 and met her husband Hakkı Mete there: “We happily got married in the Vienna Consulate. We came to Istanbul in 1970. I started working as a soloist in Istanbul State Opera and Ballet. I played in worldwide known works like “Czardas Fürstin”, “The Marriage of Figaro” and “La Boheme”.

Erdem who says; 

My husband and I knew from the moment we saw the Urla Residence that we were supposed to live there,” 

expresses her feelings about their life in the residence as:

“First of all, life in the residence is incredibly comfortable... We really love it here and we are extremely satisfied. Here I find the opportunity to do everything I have wanted to do but I never had the chance to. For example, I started painting. I paint, read, knit. In short, I can spend all my time on myself. Because here you don’t have to bother cooking, cleaning or paying the bills.

At this point I have a complaint about the people of Izmir. I went to Izmir Girls High School for some time in my life. I have friends from that school and they are in a good financial situations... I recommended them the residence saying: “Come, it is so comfortable I do gymnastics, I swim, I can spend the whole day on myself.” They came excitedly but when they got back home their daughters said to them: “We will take care of you.” You know what they do? The grandmother babysits the children. This egoism of the girls’ both upsets and annoys me. My daughter is a great child. When we decided to stay here she said: “Mom, I just want you to be happy. It is good for me, too. I won’t have to worry about you.” She really does not need to worry because the doctors and the nurses here are always around us. I cannot think of anywhere else that could make people of our age happier.”

Erdem, who expresses that their respect to Darüşşafaka’s education mission played an important role in them becoming an Urla Residence benefactor says, “We were profoundly impressed by the fact that Darüşşafaka is a society dating back to 1800’s and that it educates orphan children. We would not trust it if it belonged to a private person or a company but we came here with peace of mind because of Darüşşafaka. I wish we had the opportunity to contribute more to this mission,” says as she finishes her words.

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Fikri Ertükel

Fikri Ertükel

We commemorate with gratitude (1919 - 2016)

Fikri Ertükel, a retired electrical engineer M.Sc., who stated that he has been living in Şenesenevler Residence in peace since 2009, said,

“I killed two birds with one stone by coming here. I have both guaranteed my future and made a contribution to the education of future generations.” 

Fikri Ertükel, a retired electrical engineer M.Sc., has preferred to live in Şenesenevler Residence by returning to his country after working at hydroelectric, thermal and nuclear power plants in the US for many years. Ertükel, who was born in 1919, was transferred to Kuleli Military High School while studying at 9th grade at Istanbul High School. In 1939, he started working as an engineer officer. Ertükel, who was assigned to Thrace in the World War II, went to the US for education by passing the examination hold by Turkish General Staff. Then, he attended to Stanford University in California. He got married when he was a student: "We had a happy 55 years of marriage. When I was living in Turkey, I read an article explaining how a state economic enterprise, established for constructing dams and power plants on rivers in Tennessee, which is the poorest state of the US, enriches a region and thought that this could also be convenient for Turkey. I decided to specialize in this area and got a Master’s Degree at the State University of Iowa. Then, I served as an apprentice at the said state economic enterprise for one year.  When I came back to Turkey, as I was a military officer, I was assigned to the technical department at the Ministry of Defense. At that time, I learned that a decision was made for constructing dams in Turkey within the framework of American Marshall Plan. As I believed that it would be more useful, I requested permission from the Ministry of Defense to allow me to go and work there. The Ministry accepted my request. I worked as a chief engineer and then as an operation manager at Sarıyar Dam and Energy Power Plant for five years. In the said period, however, there was a heavy political oppression on the employees of state economic enterprises. I am not a partisan. Demokrat Party created “Motherland Front”, and forced everybody to be a member. I did not accept it. There was military coup afterwards. Then, I resigned. When I had a job offer from the organization where I served as an apprentice in the US, I packed up and moved there."

Ertükel, who continued to work in the US, said, "When I was working at state economic enterprise, I foresaw that I had poor chance of rising in my career, and therefore started to work at Bechtel, which was constructing energy power plants all around the world. I worked there for eighteen years at hydroelectric, thermal and nuclear power plants. I was granted Master of Business Administration at the University California Berkeley for starting a business in the field of nuclear power plant when I was 50 years old. In 1981, I was retired from Bechtel. I moved near Stanford University. I am a lifelong member of the University. During my retirement, I participated in many conferences, seminars and activities. I am one of the founders of Turkish-American Association in Washington. My wife was also very active. We returned Turkey in 2004, and my wife passed away one year later. Then I lived with my nurse in my house located in Suadiye. In 2009, I moved to Şenesenevler Residence. I read a lot of books and listen music in the Residence. I write by using computers and send messages to my friends on the Internet. At least once a year, I go to cruise tours with my daughter and brother. The personnel are positive, good humored and warm. Do not take this as a compliment; I sincerely say it. They do their best. Most importantly, we are safe here in every respect. Darüşşafaka is an organization with a history that dates back to more or less 1,5 centuries. It offers a guarantee and we believe in it."

Ertükel, who states that Darüşşafaka Society provides every kind of opportunity to the students in the most modern way, expresses his opinion by saying, "I always know that graduates of Darüşşafaka are educated very well. I used to see Darüşşafaka High School on the way to my own school located in Fatih. Thus, Darüşşafaka has never been unfamiliar to me.”

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Nezihe Derler

Nezihe Derler

“We are respected and loved in a way that only one’s own child could do.”

Retired from her professorship at Mimar Sinan University Department of Traditional Turkish Handicrafts, Nezihe Bilgütay Derler, for over half a century, has been rendering traditional Turkish motifs on a wide variety of materials such as china, porcelain, glass, wood, leather, and fabric, thereby leaving a legacy. Mrs. Derler, still holding the brush and passing her knowledge on the younger generations despite being an octogenarian, now continues to produce and teach in Urla Residence.

Mrs. Derler, who continues influencing her students visiting in her new apartment which she decorated with the gilded medieval texts, miniatures, china and ceramics, was born in Heybeliada in 1926. After graduating from İstanbul Girls High School, she studied in State Academy of Fine Arts, Department of Traditional Turkish Handicrafts. She graduated from here in 1957, and started to work in Yıldız Porcelain of Eczacıbaşı. She produced the chinas of Washington Mosque, Van Central Mosque, and Rize Pier Mosque, and continued to give lectures in Mimar Sinan University until she was 75. Mrs. Derler heard of Darüşşafaka Residences via her two friends living in Yakacık Residence.

She says, “my husband definitely was against it, because he was haunted by the bad reputation of the nursing homes in general, so he thought of the residences that way too. He didn’t even want to speak about it. Then, we came to Urla Residence together. He loved here so much that he said “we should come here at once”. But he couldn’t live here, I came after he passed away.” Mrs. Derler points out that life is very comfortable and easy in the residence, and says “my room is cleaned, my laundry is done and ironed. No fuss for food, bills, market, etc.

The healthcare services are excellent. Medical team is always around us…All personnel is very humane. They are so humble, respectful and good that they show the love and respect that only one’s own child can show. Sometimes I wonder how it could be possible that so many good people are together at one place. “

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Özhan Oğuzcan

Özhan Oğuzcan

“I am living the best days of my life”

In his poem called “Batık Gemi” [in English: Sunken Ship], Ümit Yaşar Oğuzcan addresses to Ms. Özhan who was his spouse for 30 years:

“All lovers and friends have gone now.

You, only you, are still standing by me, my lady, only you have not abandoned me.”

She was the “Captain”, as Ümit Yaşar Oğuzcan –who is one of the most productive poets of Turkish literature with thirty-three books in sixty-two years - used to call her. She was fourteen years old when she got married to Ümit Yaşar Oğuzcan. In her own words, she was playing “tip-cat” on the street. Their families deemed it suitable, so she had to accept it. Then, she fell in love with Ümit Yaşar and loved him so much, as she got to know him. One of the donators of Urla Residence, Özhan Oğuzcan, was born in 1934. Ms. Özhan, who got married to Ümit Yaşar Oğuzcan -step son of her aunt- in 1948, gave birth to her first child at the age of fifteen. Özhan Oğuzcan, who joined to the donators of Urla Residence in 2011, explains the process as follows: "

I was living in Istanbul alone. My house was on the third floor and our block did not have an elevator. To me, walking up and down the stairs every day was like a torture. I regularly had to take certain medicines. So, I had to go out and buy them.  When I went to shopping, I used to be exhausted to go back home. I had an assistant; nevertheless it was not working for me.  I was getting really tired. Lütfi, my son, manages a boutique hotel in Beyramkale. I told him. At first, he said that he would not allow me to move to a retirement house. Yet, I called the residence, and they came and picked me up. I stayed for a night and I liked the place very much. In the meantime, my son met a graduate from Darüşşafaka and asked him. When he heard the praises about the Residence, he searched on the Internet. He agreed when he believed that I would be comfortable here. I am having the most comfortable days of my life. Just consider: I could not even dare to go out and buy my medicines. Now, those medicines are brought to my room. I would like to share one of my memories here, which will show you the service concept. When I first came here, I did not have a lampshade in my room. I really like reading at night. I told this to the administration, and they brought a lampshade to my room just in an hour. 

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Vasfiye Eriş

Vasfiye Eriş

Everything is for literate girls

Vasfiye Eriş, who lives in Yakacık Rezidans, is one of the quite philanthropists of Turkey. Eriş, who was born on Cos (in Turkish: Istanköy), one of 12 Greek Islands and was raised in a multinational and multicultural atmosphere, narrated her childhood as follows by longing those days: “I grew up learning three languages. I speak Italian, Greek and German fluently. My friends were all Greek or Italian.” As there wasn’t a Turkish school on the island, she graduated from Italian College. Since it was necessary to go to Athens for the university, she could not continue to study. Then, she got married in Cos: “My father-in-law was one of the well-known confectioners of the island. He was making tahini, halva and baklava.

As today’s Hacı Bekir Confectioner, my father-in-law was known as Hasan Çavuş on the island. My husband had studied at the university in Istanbul, but he preferred to return to the island and work with his father. Life was really good on the island. Everybody knew each other, we never locked our doors, and we did not know what theft was.” But then, everything started to change after twelve islands were given to Greece: “Life started to get harder for the people with Turkish origin.

My husband’s family had stores and several attacks were made to those stores. Our peace was disturbed, not because of the Greeks living on the island, but of the fanatic non-native Greeks. Then, we emigrated from Cos in 1954. We went to Bodrum at first, and then to Istanbul.”

“I realized my biggest dream”

Eriş, who donated for construction of three dormitories for schoolgirls one of which is located in Kars, where schoolgirls were intensively experiencing housing problems, with a capacity of 140 students at first for the girls studying at the high school, and then another one with a capacity of 200 students for the girls studying at the university, and lastly in Çıldır with a capacity of 70 students for primary school girls, explained why she particularly donated for dormitories for schoolgirls: “My mother got married when she was fourteen and came to Cos from Bodrum. Of course, as she was married at the age of fourteen, she could only learn how to read Koran and to put a signature. We were eight siblings. When we grew up and started to go to school, our mother could not help us. When we received our school reports, our mother would never ask whether we passed or failed since she was not aware of these things. You see: I have always wanted to be literate since then. I used to say that I wish I had a literate mother to help me with my lessons. Actually, the grounds of my donations go back to those times…” Eriş, who sorted out housing problems of over 400 schoolgirls, said: “I have always had a big dream since I was a child. My biggest dream is to have mothers who are literate and sophisticated and who support their children for being well educated. By donating these dormitories, my biggest dream has come true.” 

A member of Yakacık Residence
Ms. Vasfiye, who did not wish to live alone when she lost her husband in 1999, heard about the Residences of Darüşşafaka in that period: “One of my neighbors heard about the Residences of Darüşşafaka and she brought me a very nice catalogue publicizing the residences. After viewing the catalogue, I searched, went, saw and liked the place very much. In 2004, I became a member of Yakacık Residence. Since I have been a member of the Residence, I no longer feel worried about the future. Thus, I could donate all of my assets to a charity.”

Eriş, who expresses that she experiences a different kind of peace by supporting education of children as a donator of Yakacık Residence, said: “We come together with the students of Darüşşafaka from time to time. When I talk to them, I see that all of them are nice and smart kids.”

 

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