Volunteer Spotlight – Bashir & Melis
Bashir & Melis
Melanie Melis Büyük is a Master’s student of Political Science and International Relations at Boğazici University. Bashir Sadiq is an intern doctor at Medical Park Hospital and has been an active volunteer since November 2020. Melis and Bashir both regularly volunteer at Yedikule Animal Shelter and Sokak Lambası. They are currently the co-managers of the beloved Iftar&Community project this year. These are their responses to the question “Why do you volunteer in Istanbul&I?”:
Melanie Melis Büyük
When I first arrived in Istanbul in 2017 for my Erasmus semester, I was eager to bring myself in and continue the volunteer work that I had been doing in Germany. I loved Istanbul at first sight but also noticed that there were a lot of areas where work needed to be done in terms of ensuring that everyone felt protected, seen and included. The circumstances of metropolitan life have, not solely but quite frankly significantly, abetted this process of individualization and disengagement with the people that live right next to you in the same city, maybe even the same neighbourhood. Of course, as individuals there is only so much we can do to change that. Despite that, I yearned to be part of an organisation that would take this as their goal and have found one in Istanbul&I.
In my three years now, I have taken part in many projects and, in the course of that, have seen many sides of Istanbul, gained insight to many areas that still need a lot of work, and at the same time met some amazingly interesting, kind and motivated people. Taking up the role of co-manager of Iftar&Community, despite my initial worries about overload with my studies, has been such a great activity for me, and the support that Bashir and I have seen from the Board and the community has been amazing and incredibly fun. With Istanbul&I, I felt like my ideas mattered and found fertile ground for actualization in engaging with others of the same goal.
I would recommend Istanbul&I to everyone who is looking for a place to become creative and engaged while also trying to take up a small but important role in tackling very serious problems. And who knows, maybe you’ll also come back with some new friendships?!
I came to Istanbul in 2015 as a medical student. Having joined Istanbul&I five years later, those years were undoubtedly misspent. Istanbul&I gave me the opportunity to give back to the community and make a difference to the lives of people around me. I am very passionate about giving back, and from my experience it is very fulfilling to see the impact you can make. Istanbul&I did not only give me a chance to give, but also a chance to socialize and get to know the local community while meeting fellow passionate volunteers from different backgrounds, learning about cultures and hearing their stories.
2020, a time when everything changed, did not stop committed and enthusiastic volunteers from going outside where the deadly virus lurked, to selflessly help those in need. I regularly started helping out at the Yedikule Animal Shelter and Sokak Lambası projects. The dedication, generosity and thoughtfulness I felt from the volunteers on these occasions made me want to go back every single week. In March 2021, I started my first role as co-manager of the Iftar&Community project alongside Melis, an amazing partner. Two weeks down the line, we have distributed over 130 meals to displaced people in Fatih, Istanbul.
My experience at Istanbul&I has been wonderful. I am really glad I clicked ‘apply’ on the volunteer registration form. I wish I could turn back the hands of time and join at an earlier date but better late than never. I hope we see the end to this global pandemic so we can all go back to doing what we love best: helping!