Stories of Turkish girls' success

Stories of Turkish girls' success

I went to New York in the midst of the fierce campaign for the referendum. The reason why I decided to fly thousands of kilometers and go to New York was to support two girls and a boy.

Güleser Çelik, is 21 years old. She started a one-month internship at the United Nations. She was born in Ergani in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır in 1989. Her father was a farmer who did not finish primary education.

Her mother was married when she was 13 and made her second marriage when she was 16. She had eight children at nearly year-and-a-half intervals.

Çelik, both of whose elder sisters are married, is the fifth of the eight children.

Though his father did not finish primary education, he tried all he could to send his children to school. When they were small, he used to give them imaginary professions, “You will be a doctor,” he would say to one, “you will be a governor,” to another. But the income from farming was not enough.

Then came the Snowdrops Project, which educates girls from underprivileged families, from the Support for Contemporary Living Association, or ÇYDD, which found Çelik on the list provided by the provincial education directories, and offered her a “snowdrop” project from Turkcell.

Çelik was able to go to school with this project, graduating from the international relations department of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University.

A couple of months ago she told her story and explained the Snowdrop project at the United Nations.

“I used to love the sky and wanted to be a pilot. I also had the goal of being a governor,” Çelik said.

Now she has different ambitions; although she studied international relations, she has shown an aptitude in economics classes and would now like to work at the Istanbul Stock Exchange, or ISE.

I inquired about her friends in Ergani. “Some of my friends with whom I played went to school. Some were not allowed by their families to go to school. They were married at very ages,” she said.

There is a hidden hero behind Çelik: her older brother. The family lost their father at an early age while the mother left eight of her children and married someone else. The brother, however, kept the family together in his 30s despite the exhaustion.

We also learned that Çelik’s sister succeeded on her university exams and will study medicine.

Turkey provides several examples of solidarity. The Snowdrop Project supports 20 thousand of our children. Moreover, not only Turkcell, but several other companies and private personalities are also supporting Turkish education.

I am also in New York to support another 21-year-old Turkish woman. For the first time in history, a Turkish woman will be playing singles at one of the world’s biggest tennis tournaments as Çağla Büyükakçay has qualified for the US open.

The world has four big tennis tournaments: The US Open in the United States, Wimbledon in England, Roland Garros in France and the Australian Open.

Some 200 players participate in these tournaments; the first 100 play directly in the tournaments while the second 100, play in qualifying games. For the first time in our history, a Turkish woman entered the second 100 to attend the qualifiers of the US Open.

Büyükakçay also has an interesting story. Born in the southern province of Adana, she began playing tennis at the age of 8. When her talent was discovered, the sports club ENKA, a private company, provided her a scholarship, leading her mother to move from Adana to Istanbul just for her sporting career.

Thereafter, a nice cooperation started between companies, helping Büyükakçay in her future as Turkcell became a sponsor to Büyükakçay in the framework of a program the company takes for sports players.

With the support of ENKA and Turkcell, Çağla continued her career and went up to 187 in the world ranking.

We watched her play in New York against another player ranked 60th. She tried to hang on in the first set but then lost the match.

The experts I read following the match said she did a good job – they also believe she will continue to rise. I liked her attitude and her sense of fight during the match. I am sure that this young girl who came out of Adana, will be one of the shining stars of international tennis.

Tennis is an interesting sport, with 720 thousand people watching last year’s US Open. It also has a big audience on TV. I was on a psychological high during my three days stay in New York.

Following, football, basketball, voleyball and athletics – in which Turkey took big leaps forward – it is preparing to make itself heard in a sport that is, in a way, an aristocratic branch of sports.

Making miracles in the economy, Turkey is now preparing for miracles in sports