Sokak Lambası is a project that helps distribute free meals to the disadvantaged community in Fatih once a week in collaboration with Istanbul&I. Sokak Lambası was started by Serap Abla six years ago, distributing soup in Taksim Square. In 2018, she decided to rent a place so that they could start a charity association (yardımlaşma dernek). Before the pandemic, Istanbul&I volunteers used to go to Cerrahpaşa Hospital to distribute soup among disadvantaged people there and along the way as well. However, after lockdown restrictions, volunteers couldn’t go to the hospital anymore and instead they started to prepare and distribute food items to the needy in the neighborhood of Silivrikapı. Each week they provide meals for around 200 beneficiaries.
The Project Manager, May Thazin, gathers around five to six volunteers every week to help Serap Abla prepare soup by slicing vegetables. They also help prepare sandwiches, arrange them in packets, and distribute them in the evening when members of the disadvantaged community line up outside the center. The meals distributed include apples, soup, sandwiches, bread, and water, with all the items packaged neatly in bags. May remarks, “One thing I like the best about this project is that we do not only get to distribute food items to disadvantaged people but also be part of the process of purchasing food items, preparing, cooking, and packaging. It is a wholesome experience for me every week. I fell in love with this project because I feel motivated and satisfied by it. It feels very rewarding after every volunteering session and I want more volunteers to experience this amazing event. This is why I decided to take up the project manager position.”
The friendly environment at the center creates a jovial experience for all, as volunteers get the chance to interact with Sokak Lambası management and the beneficiaries as well. Hajar Assi, one of the regular volunteers of the project, explained, “It’s my way to do something good in this world; a little change can make all the difference.” While another volunteer, Bashir Sadiq, remarked, “Helping other less fortunate people with meals and making an impact on their lives is why I keep dedicating my time every week to come take part in this project. Volunteering at Sokak Lambası also gives me the chance to spend quality time and enjoy meaningful conversations with other volunteers while we prepare the meals.”
Hiba Mansoor – 27/6/21