A lot of people who have bought Turkish property and chosen to settle in Turkey either full time or for months at a time want to become part of the locality they have chosen. For some expats they want to give something back to the country they have adopted. Around the world, one way of giving back to the community is by volunteering. In Turkey this can be quite difficult, one quite obvious reason is not having sufficient language skill in Turkish. Another is that the service of volunteering is relatively new to Turkey and as such the value of it is often underestimated and not really recognised. Here are 4 tips that could assist you.
- Network; many organisations that are specifically aimed at expats often have a system of volunteer programs organised. Contact International groups, put feelers out on your own social media, check blogs and expat websites such as MyMerhaba for any volunteer activity that is for a cause you want to support.
- Start Small; offer to help with the basic chores, integrate yourself into the system. Whatever your skill set is or however long you have been a volunteer of fundraiser, get to know the organisation and build relationships.
- Have the patience of Job! Emails are often ignored by NGO’s mainly due to being understaffed and busy and if not written in Turkish do not expect a n answer. If you know an address pop in and introduce yourself, be astute and keep opinions on how they do things to yourself until you are in a position of knowledge and have built up enough trust to contribute your suggestions.
- Offer only what you can; commitment is all important and even more so with the fledgling NGO’s in Turkey. Showing your commitment by being consistent and sincere is very important.
If you have your Turkish property in Istanbul if will be definitely easier to find NGO’s and liaise with them, as most have their headquarters in the city and are more likely to see the value in an expat volunteer than if your Turkish property is in the countryside or smaller town. For example in Istanbul you can find:
- The Make a Wish Foundation – granting the wishes of sick children
- AD.DAR - A platform for helping displaced Syrians and Palestinians rebuild their lives
- HADD (Hisar Anatolian Support Society) – This is an example where knowledge of English would be useful as they are Internationally funded and often need assistance with the required report writing.