I was overwhelmed with the response to my call-out for donations to Syrian refugees in Turkey. You may recall a little over a week ago, I sent out an email calling for donations of clothes, with which I would take to Istanbul on my visit and distribute to the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees about to endure Istanbul’s cold winter. I received many responses congratulating me on my actions, and many from people who would have loved to donate clothes but for the fact that we lived in different cities.

 

Happily, I was able to cram full three suitcases (my entire baggage allowance) with clothes donated by colleagues and friends, and deliver them to a charity that provides assistance to refugees in Istanbul. Caritas is a charity that operates world-wide and is one of the few charities operating in Turkey that takes direct donations of clothing. I was able to visit Caritas’ offices in Turkey and see the local staff and volunteers gratefully receive your much-needed warm clothing for children, women and men.

Some of you were not able to donate clothes and instead entrusted me with funds that were also delivered. These funds were also donated to Caritas and will be put towards food vouchers, medicine, and hospital payment in health emergencies.

A special word of thanks must go to CSR who organised clothing donations from many of their staff, to Naresh Patel and Mark Benson, and to Brian Korgaonkar and Thomas Lee of Enphase USA who also donated funds.

Even after donating, I was still emotionally impacted by the many Syrian women begging on the streets of Istanbul, young children sleeping in their laps. As well-practiced as I am in turning a blind eye to beggars on the streets of Melbourne, it was difficult to be emotionally distant towards those who were homeless and stateless, whose families had been torn apart by chaos, and whose future was filled with uncertainty.

For those of you who are inspired to make a contribution, I encourage you to donate to Caritas’ European Refugee Crisis fund, the UNHCR’s Syrian Emergency fund, or to the charity of your choice.