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We started from Bosnia and reached 120 countries
The Chairman of IHH, Humanitarian Relief Foundation Bülent Yıldırım in the interview he gave to Gurbet Kalay Zorba from Türkiye Daily told about the establishment of the foundation, its aims, the aid
Arakan, Balkans, BosniaandHerzegovina, Palestine-Gaza, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey 30.09.2009

Would you please tell the establishment story of IHH?

Our foundation was established in order to help the wronged people after the assaults in Bosnia Herzegovina at the end of the 1992. Serbia was mercilessly killing the Muslims in Bosnia. We went to Bosnia. We closely saw the assaults there. The things that our elders said appeared again in our memories. We again remembered the murders that the Russians,Armenians,Greeks,Bulgarians committed in the Ottoman lands.It means the mankind loses himself at war. Not an assault again – even if a Muslim does something like that it is same for us- we decided that an organization was needed for the innocent and wronged people. Then we turned back to Turkey and started these works in Turkey.


Three people we started

First we went as three people. Three of us were young, we had friends coming from Turkey as well. Some of them were martyred. That’s evident we were in the middle of the war,nobody could bring help,there was famine and non-stop the bombs were falling. To reach there help deciding to die wes required and we gave this decision. We carried the aid with our friends through the Serbs to Sarajevo. Even it was echoed in the entire world how could this happen, how could aid be taken there? But Allah helped and during these efforts our friends were martyred. May Allah pour their mercy on us, they were very diligent, they had decided to pay for any cost and they did so. That period there were really good services. Even the time that the snipers were hitting the people there was only one minibus and it was IHH’s. We used to carry people from one corner of Sarajevo to the other corner. Today every child living in Sarajevo had got on our that minibus. Here the story that had started in Sarajevo today reached to 120 countries.

In one of the regions under heavy bombardment they told me these about the children without anyone: “If you care about these children, they will be merciful. If not, all will be smugglers and grabbers.” We realized this so and first saw in Bosnia. There is Zagrep Mosque in the capital city of Croatia in Zagrep. After the war the Bosnians who lost each other were meeting there.Our center was there as well.In the course of the time we saw that the little children and young girls were disappearing. We put there a guard from our foundation. We realized that these orphan children were being kidnapped. This also happened in Marmara earthquake, as the traces of these could not be followed they were forgotten. In Gaza or Pakistan the same things had happened. Because to the regions of war or earthquake apart from you, the other organizations with bad intentions go as well. One is organ mafia, the other is a missionary organization. The aid organizations rescue the children they find. The others try to take the children they find into the organizations of crime.

 How does your system work, how do you determine the regions?

We have students. From abroad to here we bring students. We take information from them and we have an experience of 19 years. We had already been to 120 countries and determined the problems in these countries ourselves. If a school is needed in a region we talk to the local organizations or administrations there,sometimes they provide us land, sometimes a building, we build school then. Especially since we attach importance to their connection with Turkey we give Turkish education too. In some places apart from the school needs, there are needs for hospitals in Africa for example in the regions where Christians and Muslims live condensedly that the Christians have serious infrastructure. All the European countries support them and when you go, you really see that the skyscrapers and the slums are intermingled. The places where there are skyscrapers and villas are the places the Christian population lives, the other places of poverty are Muslim populated. We are opening hospitals,clinics and delivery rooms there.

There are around 5 millions of cataract patients in Africa. We first started this cataract work in Somali. Now in many parts of Africa we make cataract surgery and we opened the eyes of almost 25.000 patients.We provide some of the health teams from Turkey and some from the region. Also we have youngs who we brought to go to medical faculty. Some of them are oculists and some are experts in different branches. They also help us. The number of the patients whose eyes were opened are only 25.000 but the number of those who were examined and given glasses passed hundreds of thousands. We had an agreement for next days. We will open the eyes of 10.000 people from Ethiopia.

How do these aids make you feel?

Now there is no chance to be examined for 100 TL, you are opening the eye of a patient for this amount of money, that is very cheap. The eyes of this man do not see for 18-20 years. The two eyes of this man that do not see for 18-20 years can be opened for 200 TL but, since he is poor he could not do this. Meanwhile he cannot see the beauties of the world, unaware of the colors and is always in longing. Now we have his pictures. Let’s say you are operating 150-200 people a day before and the next day all their eyes are opened at the same time. Those people the moment they see the first light scream.That scream of happiness, the prayers and dancing… For example a 7-8 year-old girl was congenitally cataract patient,she had never seen her mother we made her operated and she realized her mother from her smell among a lot of women.What do you feel? We must live this.Helping is the best and luciest work in the world. I believe that whoever wants Allah gives him. Already you see that the number of the aid foundations increased in Turkey. The sense of helping increased and people want to help.


Can you narrate your an unforgettable memory?

Of course since we went to a lot of places our memory is full about this topic. In the Gaza case a bomb was dropped just nearby and the saw the body of a man whose head was completely separated and ten children near him. The wife of the house was not crying and she was strong, the smallest child started to cry and the older one made him stop. Since we went with camera they taught that we were foreigners. I mean a Palestinian never cries Then I cried, after I cried all of them started to cry. This impressed me a lot. Again a little girl at the age of 9. She says to her sister at the age of 7: “Wear your pyjamas clean it shouldn’t be torn. If we are hit, when we go to hospital our clothes shouldn’t be bad.”

There is the 4th orphans meeting. Can you tell about this?

On 17th October there will be a big orphans meeting in Turkey. It will be echoed in Turkey. A period in Turkey in the cinemas the orphans were known as oppressed and despised. People love orphans and want to help them. We want to develop this more. We make works about the orphans in Turkey and abroad. Now we are taking care of nearly 20.000 orphans. Monthly we give 70 TL. Only we don’t make cash aid also if their families are alive we care about them too. Our aim is together with this orphan programme to come to a level to help 50.000 orphans in a month. During the time we say that we must care about the orphans especially in the regions of war and natural disasters because we have to protect them from the foundations,formations and organizations with bad intentions.

 Who is Bülent Yıldırım, can you tell us about yourself?

I was born in 1967,in Erzurum. My deceased father was a police officer. I had a chance to travel to a lot of places of Turkey. My hometown has a property. Those mountains where 90.000 people died who we call the Martyrs of Sarıkamış are our plains. We were all grown up among the martyrs. If you dig the land in those mountains you see the bone of a martyr. All the children living there have a kind of migration story, a memory full of pain. In all our minds there was a thought on how we could help the land, country and the world we live in and make the people happy. Since my father was an officer I had a chance to know about a lot of cities. For example he worked in Diyarbakır, Bağlar district for four years. We learned about that region and the pains of the region. That is why the desire to work in the NGOs started when I was very little. Then I had university years. First I went to economy department in Bursa. Later in the establishment of Istanbul justice and NGOs we had duty and today we continue this. Still I am an attorney. I have an attorney office and we are six friends but I cannot be in business a lot since I am mostly related with the works of the foundation.”

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