GOVERNANCE

Turkey’s young and for once strong citizens

In the last twenty years in Turkey, in spite of a impressive financial rise, young people (1/3 of the population) have been left out of social life through an active a-politicization process. This process has continuously portrayed young people as a group that is unreliable, restless and tense. There are some 20 million people between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four in Turkey, but because of the lack of a national organization to bring together this large number of people, they have been largely left in the margins of the society, with their voices unheard. Ibrahim Betil is striving to trigger their dynamics by unifying young people around community service to solve social problems, thereby nurturing their individual and social consciousness. He has experienced that the projects that are the richest in new ideas are the ones that engage young people and that youth are creative and highly focused when it comes to tackling social problems.

Thus, he advocates that allowing young people to use their potential early on in their lives will make the civil society in Turkey stronger and thus the society better off down the road. To carry forward this idea, Ibrahim was one of the founders of Volunteers in Education Foundation and then of the Community Volunteers Foundation (TOG in Turkish). TOG matches 2.500 university students from 54 Turkish institutions with local and national social change initiatives throughout Turkey, providing a formative experience for young leaders to contribute to positive social change. A few years ago, Foundation for Turkish Education Volunteers (TEGV) was also founded; Turkey’s first national voluntary education service organization for kids. The aim of this effort was to introduce people to opportunities for volunteering. It formed the prototype for the effort Ibrahim is currently pursuing. Through TEGV, Ibrahim introduced the first-ever citizen-base campaign, raising US$1 million for volunteer initiatives through a television-based effort.

Community Volunteers Foundation_website

Website: http://tog.org.tr/EN/

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