Locals draw blood to cross wooden suspension bridge in Black Sea village
İsmail Bilir calls his makeshift wooden bridge the 'Turkish Red Crescent Bridge.' AA PhotoA villager who built a wooden suspension bridge over a small water stream in a village in the Black Sea province of Artvin, has set an unusual toll for those who need to cross it: Donating one unit of blood to the Turkish Red Crescent.
Varlık villager İsmail Bilir says he has managed to collect some 150 units of blood in 12 years thanks to the scheme.
“Tourists who come to our village cannot hide their surprise when they see the note on the bridge. People who hear about the scheme come to our village just to visit me,” Bilir said.
He explained that he constructed the bridge after the small Varlık River flooded, submerging the old one while at the same time cutting off the road that connected his house to the village.
Bilir added lighting to allow people to cross at night, and later even included a camera system that allows him to track those who try to use the bridge without permission when he is out of the village.
Instead of demanding money to meet the expenses of his enterprise, Bilir chose to raise awareness on blood donation in the local community.
“I started to donate blood at 18. Over 47 years, I have donated a total of 76 units of blood. Each unit saves the life of three people,” said Bilir, proudly stating that the Turkish Red Crescent has awarded him with special gold, silver and bronze medals for his efforts.
Now 70 years old, he no longer can give blood, but his passion for the Red Crescent has also helped his village gain some renown.
Visitors who cross the bridge and promise to donate blood are treated in return with delicious tea and snacks prepared by Bilir’s wife, Mahriye.