A Bunch of Do-Gooders

posted in: Evolving | 0

That’s what they are. A bunch of Do-Gooders.

And now I’m one of them.

Worse, one of the ringleaders!

When not off on some adventure weekend (snowboarding, scuba diving, skydiving, etc), my new extreme sports group of friends have been having SO MUCH FUN doing good (and a lot of it) that we decided it was high time to form our own NGO.

In the coming weeks, Ahtapot Gönüllüleri Derneği (Octopus Volunteers Association) will become an officially registered NGO.

Frankly I am amazed to find myself in this position. Finally. After 7 years of my outreach project in Nepal and having tried for years to create some similar kind of social outreach program here in Turkey that was meaningful to me and that fits my personal interests, it turns out that there are a lot of people in Istanbul who want to do the same thing I want to. And in the silly, ego-less way I want to do it.

The first actual event I did with these crazies was to run the Istanbul Marathon’s 10K event with them in November. Thirty people in rainbow wigs and neon yellow shirts, and me and Vedat in the Superman costumes I had sewn. Onur was on his bullhorn entertaining us en route with his effortless nonstop comedy standup. We must have appeared in every major Turkish newspaper that day because of the attention our Superman costumes attracted. As a result of that event, Ahtapot Gonulluleri raised more money than even Coca-cola’s team did, according to Adım Adım‘s tallies. Our goal was to help Icerde Cocuk Var project build nursery schools in prisons for children unfortunate enough to be stuck behind bars with their incarcerated mothers.

The second event was distributing clothing to the homeless, a project for which we raised more than 500 new winter jackets, socks, and other provisions. We met up one bitterly cold evening in Taksim and went location to location to distribute the goods directly, under the auspices of ŞefkatDer, the NGO we were helping.

Next, on 25 December, after garnering support for all the needed material and practicing the construction design, everyone hauled out to Tuzla to build 66 dog houses for the animal shelter there in collaboration with Orman Çocukları (Children of the Forest).

The incredible level of success we had in executing those projects demonstrated how easily and swiftly our motivated crew could raise awareness, funds, and goods to go get the job done.

Now we need to capitalize on our force. We need to systemize and formalize to make sure our efforts help as many as possible. We are currently knee deep in hammering out our constitution and bylaws. Whole day workshops with the entire group, and countless smaller group “marathon meetings” are happening each week to get this NGO working.

But just because it is exhausting doesn’t mean it isn’t FUN. In fact, having fun is an actual requirement in our bylaws, and an actual element to be audited in all our activities by our Yüksek Eğlence Kurul (High Council of Entertainment).

Do Good. Have Fun. 

That’s the plan.


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