Turkey’s Changemakers: Woman with spirit of Afife Jale: Ümmiye Koçak
Sabancı Foundation Turkey’s Changemakers Program continues in its 5th season to share the unique stories of extraordinary people who contribute to the social development. The 12th Changemaker of the 5th season is “Ümmiye Koçak”.
Born in 1957 in Çelemli Village, Adana, Ümmiye Koçak could not continue her education after primary school in a family with 10 siblings. After completing primary school, Ümmiye Kocak read lots of books for self-development. The first book she read was “The Mother” by Maxim Gorky. Kocak moved to Arslankoy in Mersin after getting married, and she formed the “Arslanköy Women’s Theater Group” in 2001 to show the life of women in rural areas to everyone.
The first play staged by the Group was “Taş Bademleri” by Remzi Özçelik. Later, the Group staged another play composed of their own stories, called”Women’s Outcry”. In 2006, Ummiye Kocak performed the play “Flowers of Longing” at the Sabanci International Adana Theater Festival. Saving money she earned by working in the field, Kocak wrote and directed a film, titled “Yün Bebek” (Wool Doll), which was about violence against women. The premiere of the movie, which was sponsored by Mersin Film Associate, Toroslar Municipality, Mersin Governorship, Mersin Commodity Exchange and Akdeniz Municipality, was held at the 49th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival. Ummiye Kocak won the “Best Eurasian Actress in Cinema” with her movie “Wool Doll” at the New York Eurasian Film Festival.
The 57-year old Ümmiye Koçak, who is married for 32 years and a mother of two, has written 11 plays so far. She has been on the stage with Arslanköy Women’s Theater Group approximately 500 times and their plays were viewed by 30 thousand spectators from all around the Turkey.