April Project Highlight

Project Highlight

Yedikule Animal Shelter

            Yedikule Animal Shelter is one of Istanbul&I’s most recently started projects and the first animal-focused project. Since December 2019, the project has been a major success and has continued to run every week even through the COVID-19 pandemic and cold winter rain. The Yedikule Animal Shelter project was started by Istanbul University Law student and dedicated volunteer Zeynep Duygu who joined Istanbul&I in 2018 because she believed in helping other people and making a change in the world. When asked what motivated her to start this project, Zeynep asserted, “This is my passion project, as I’ve been trying to rescue and help stray animals in any way I can for nearly four years now. I do this work because I feel like people don’t really know what animals go through here in Turkey. I came up with the idea of volunteering at an animal shelter, so I researched and contacted local shelters. Thankfully, the Yedikule Animal Shelter agreed to start this project in collaboration with us because they needed the extra help.”

            Istanbul&I volunteers, led by Zeynep and her co-manager Sajad Safajooee, head to the shelter every Friday to help with running daily tasks. The tasks consist of helping unpack donated food like bread, sandwiches, and meat for the dogs, cleaning the water and food bowls, and giving the animals some much-needed love and belly rubs. More recently, as the collaboration between Yedikule Animal Shelter and Istanbul&I has developed, our volunteers are now allowed to also help clean the part of the shelter for old and sick dogs as part of the project’s tasks. Zeynep remarked, “I’m really happy that the shelter is trusting us more and more now because I can still remember the shelter manager was very hesitant to let us volunteer the first time I met her. She was hesitant because most of the time when she gets volunteers to help at the shelter, they just come to take photos, have fun, and then leave. But when we started to come every Friday non-stop, no matter if the weather was bad or raining, she started to trust us. Now she’s grateful when we come every week and we’re friends with all the staff members who are always excited to meet our diverse volunteers from different backgrounds. And of course, we’re always happy to alleviate some of the manual labor load for the workers, especially since the shelter is run by a small team taking care of so many animals!” 

            As the Yedikule Animal Shelter project continues into its second year, Istanbul&I is excited to see what the future holds and how we can further support the shelter in its mission of rescuing stray animals. Istanbul&I would like to encourage everyone to help any sick and stray animals they come across however they can, whether it’s by taking them to the free of cost ministry clinics or by just simply leaving out a bowl of water. A simple bowl of water can save countless lives, especially during hot summers. As Zeynep states, “Never think that you don’t have the resources to help stray animals. If Allah brings an animal to your doorstep, the resources will come to you so long as you extend your empathy and care to the animal.”

Osama Hijazi – 28/3/2021