Turkish ambassador wins recognition for giving children begging books instead of money
Esra Ülkar - ISTANBULTurkey’s Ambassador to South Sudan, Hasan Sevilir, has been keeping children’s books in his car and distributing them to children begging for money from him on the streets.
The incident was discovered when the ambassador shared a post on his personal Twitter account along with some photos.
“The library is in my car! The joy of the children, mixed with astonishment, to whom I have given a book instead of money during a red light,” said Sevilir, sharing a photo of a child as well as the books he kept in his car.
The ambassador’s demeanor has won wide recognition on social media, with many users congratulating him for this “fabulous” idea.
Sevilir told daily Hürriyet he found it wrong to give money to children begging and running to cars while they are waiting at red lights on the road or in other situations.
“I am of the opinion that money means feeding the gangs using those children and encouraging this occupation [of begging]. I do not think any of the kids, who collect money by saying they are hungry, can spend that money to buy something to eat for themself,” he said.
“For years, I had been handing out food items such as chocolate, candies, apples, oranges, and bagels that I had kept in my car for kids in this situation to be able to feed themselves, but over the last couple of years, books have turned out to be more attractive and practical. Chocolates melt in the heat and fruits go bad. Books are the most durable and feed the soul. The left door’s storage compartment of my car looks like a mini library,” Sevilir said.
“You hand them illustrated books into their small palms they have opened for money. First, they are confused and wait for money, but then they start to look at the book as if they have just received a special gift,” said the ambassador on the children’s reactions upon receiving the books.
“For some of them maybe, it is the first book they have ever received. Most of them take a break from their shifts [of begging], sit down on the pavement and immediately start to look at the book,” he noted further.
This is not however, the ambassador’s first creative idea. In the beginning of the 2000s, when he was a consul-general in Melbourne, he organized a project called “Toy library” for which he collected thousands of toys in Australia and then sent to a recreational facility in Turkey accommodating the victims of the 1999 Marmara earthquake.
The toys were then collected in a newly formed “Toy library” in the northwestern province of Düzce, which was hit the hardest by the quake, to where the children could go to and borrow books from.