Turkish woman on way to Nice conservatory after years in shelter

Turkish woman on way to Nice conservatory after years in shelter

Meltem Özgenç – ANKARA
Turkish woman on way to Nice conservatory after years in shelter


Merve Başoğlu, a 21-year-old raised in a children’s shelter under the protection of Turkey’s Family and Social Policies Ministry, has been accepted to the Conservatory of Nice in France.

Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya spoke to daily Hürriyet about Başoğlu’s miraculous success story.

“Merve, who has been receiving education in the Faculty of Music and Performing Arts at [Ankara’s] Bilkent University, has been accepted to the Conservatory of Nice in France. This is one of the most important schools of the world. I have discussed the topic with Ms. Emine [President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s wife]. She was very proud. But because this school’s expenses are 200,000 euros, she urged that we find a scholarship right away. After vigorous efforts, we found a scholarship,” Sayan Kaya said.

At the age of 13, Başoğlu, along with her siblings, was handed over to the Social Service and Child Protection Institute. The children were then transferred to a shelter under state protection.

Başoğlu’s life changed when she saw her teacher playing a transverse flute. She then started playing it too and eventually mastered the instrument. In 2014, she won a full scholarship at Bilkent University.

“I first saw the transverse flute when my elementary school teacher was playing it. Its look and stance was so beautiful that I wanted to play it so bad. I had dreams about it. We are nine siblings in total. When the love houses [“sevgi evleri” in Turkish, the special children’s shelters within the body of the ministry] were opened, I was one of the first to get in. They gave me a special room so that I could improve my gift. My family could not have provided me this opportunity. For this reason, I very much thank the Family and Social Policies Ministry,” Başoğlu said.

“When I became minister, I wanted to learn about successful students who are under our protection. A list was made. Among that list was Merve’s name and her talent in playing the transverse flute. Merve ranked first worldwide in the Varna Music Competition. We were very happy. Emine Erdoğan had bought the transverse flute, which constituted a huge importance in Merve’s success, from Austria and gifted it to her,” Sayan Kaya told daily Hürriyet.

Sayan Kaya confirmed that Başoğlu would be leaving for France to pursue her education in a couple of days.

“Now that I think about it, if I was the one who had received this acceptance [from the Conservatory of Nice], my family would not have been able to provide this opportunity. But we, as the state, stand behind our gifted children,” the minister said.

“I believe that Merve will be a role model to the children staying in our institutions. Four of her other siblings are staying in our institutions, too. She is also a role model to them. One of her siblings is playing the contrabass and another sibling is playing the piano. We are trying to bring out the area of interests of the children staying in our shelters. I constantly speak with our children to listen to their dreams and so that their horizons can expand. Twenty-seven of our children joined the Olympics. Among them, there are those who have achieved success. We support our kids in the areas of culture, arts, and sports. We provide single rooms for our gifted, hard-working children so that they attain their desired success,” she added.