Clean hands, clean path: Charity campaign transforms schools

Clean hands, clean path: Charity campaign transforms schools

TRABZON - Hürriyet Daily News
Clean hands, clean path: Charity campaign transforms schools

A series of Eczacıbaşı initiatives include aid for art projects and art classes at the school as well as a pantomime group as part of the Hygiene Project.

Leading members of the Ezcacıbaşı team were at the Trabzon’s Maçka Esiroğlu 75. Yıl boarding school on March 27 to present their award-winning charity campaign’s journey transforming the school’s facilities under the Ezcacıbaşı Hygiene Project.

The project, which has so far transformed over 20 schools and aims to squeeze in seven more before the end of 2013, hopes to help students reach “the emotional and physical conditions they deserve,” the company’s vice chairman, Faruk Eczacıbaşı, said during the ceremony, which was attended by Trabzon’s governor.

The campaign has so far received awards from several organizations, including the United Nations and International Public Relations Association.

“We hope that these efforts, the education provided to students, and these projects that are designed for them will help them see their life and future through a different frame,” Eczacıbaşı said.

The project was initiated through the combined efforts of the Eczacıbaşı group and Türkan Saylan, a leading figure in science and medicine and a devoted warrior in the cause of providing education to underprivileged girls. A series of Eczacıbaşı initiatives have also included aid for art projects and art classes at the school as well as a pantomime group.

As part of the transformation project, the school’s bathrooms have now been tiled in the exact way the students prefer. A total of 56,377 products from the group’s sub-companies, as well as 84,276 square meters of tiles, were used in the renovations. “We first picked everything ourselves,” said Okşan Atilla Sanön, vice president of the company’s Corporate Communications and Sustainable Development.

“Then we realized the kids didn’t really like them that much. So we asked them what they wanted and did everything according to their tastes thereafter.”

Some of the previous schools collaborated with include district schools in Şanlıurfa, Sivas, Mardin, Bilecik, Muş, Van, Çorum and Erzincan. District boarding schools (YBOs), were established in the late 1930s as a way to provide education to children of underprivileged families who could not afford early education for their kids. With the recent educational reforms, however, students could no longer stay at the dormitories until they reached the fifth grade unless they had no possible means of transportation to the school. About 495 YBOs are present in Turkey currently, with 212,894 students being educated at them in the 2011-12 school year.

Home to 354 students with a portion of them residing in the dorms, Maçka Esiroğlu’s facilities are advanced considering its remote location.

Receiving education can be a challenge for many families in the region, with one girl who attends one of the previously renovated schools saying in an interview that it is a “struggle every year” to enroll in school as her family, unsupportive of her education, must be convinced to allow her to study.

The project’s hygiene aspect has taught students how to use toilets and toilet paper in the proper way and wash their hands, information that is often new to residents of the provincial region. “In short, there are no bathrooms in the village,” the same girl said when asked what she knew about hygiene in bathrooms before the education campaign. Over six million students were provided with courses on hygiene, the use of bathroom facilities and personal cleanness.

She said of her reception upon returning home with the new hygiene routines and information, “[My family] says, ‘Are you all fancy now that you’ve gone to the school?’”