Turkish charity organization Turkiye Diyanet Foundation (TDV) is delivering aid worth 11.5 million Turkish liras ($1.65 million) as part of its activities during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Linked to Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, or Diyanet, the TDV is distributing aid, not only in Turkey but also in 35 countries, to ameliorate the sufferings of people due to lockdown enforced by the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ihsan Acik, the second chairman of the board of trustees of the TDV, said the organization used to reach out to 149 countries as part of its charity activities. But this time, the international campaign has been scaled down to include just 35 countries.

“As part of our Ramadan activities in 2020, we will carry the brotherhood climate to 35 countries and will be the voice of goodness,” he said.

He said the relief work has been designed as a part of measures against coronavirus.

“With our 140,000 officials and volunteers, we have started to deliver aid to our unemployed citizens, elderly, and people with health challenges during the month of Ramadan,” Acik said.

He recalled that last year the foundation carried its charity operations to 98 countries in the Muslim holy month.

“As part of the Ramadan aid program that we carry out in cooperation with Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs and local non-governmental organizations, we are planning to distribute 38,450 food parcels, 46,000 iftar (fast breaking) packages, and clothes to 10,800 orphans in different countries until the end of the month of Ramadan,” he added.

More focus on domestic Ramadan aid

“We will focus on our Ramadan activities domestically as part of measures against coronavirus, which has affected the whole world,” he said.

As part of domestic activities during the fasting month, the charity eyes to reach 152,500 people by distributing meat, clothing, and 61,000 food vouchers in 81 provinces across Turkey, he said.

Acik said that the changes concerning aid were also made in the arrangements for iftar, or fast-breaking meal programs. Instead of setting up iftar meals, the charity is distributing food packets and will deliver clothes during the Eid holidays.

“We will not leave the needy people alone,” said Acik.

Lamenting that the charity was not able to arrange iftar meal congregations and be with brothers and sisters this year, he said that every year millions of people all over the world used to gather at iftar programs and thus “reinforce the feelings of brotherhood”, and to convey the support of the Turkish nation to the oppressed and victims.

“We feel something missing and the lack of it in this Ramadan,” he added.

Acik said the TDV receives donations from generous people through short message services, online channels, banks, and state postal branches.

The donations are also accepted at over 1,000 branches of the foundation where measures have been taken to enforce social distancing rules, he added.

He said as part of measures battling the pandemic, the charity had to adapt to rules and regulations and make changes in its aid distribution activities.

The top TDV official said that since the coronavirus has affected the charity organizations also across the globe, the system of approaching donors and to the needy have also changed.

Acik said that the appeals for help have increased twice compared to previous years due to the medical emergency that has led to the temporary closure of workplaces, quarantine measures, self-isolation, and government restrictions.

More demand for food packets

The people in need of help are also reaching the foundation through social media, call centers, and branches. He said that the foundation responds to hundreds of help requests received through these channels every day.

“There are more demands for food packets and financial aid. We are trying to meet these demands within the capacity of the foundation,“ he said.

“In the holy month of Ramadan, when the universe is filled with peace, we need to strengthen the bond of brotherhood, reach out to those in need in our country and oppressed people in the world, and experience the joy of Ramadan together,” he said.

Acik stressed the TDV believes that in this period when humanity needs to be equipped with love and compassion, everyone should support each other as much as possible.

“We expect our philanthropists and citizens to support the path of well-being,“ he appealed.

He also said that during the month of Ramadan, people can make donations in the form of disbursing zakat — mandatory alms, fitrah — a special form of charity on eve of Eid, fidya — donation to the poor when a fast is missed out of some compulsion — handout, food packets, and clothing.

Acik said the people can support the foundation via its webpage and, as well as through provincial and district mufti’s office, TDV branches, and the country’s postal service, PTT.

Established in 1975, TDV is a voluntary organization that works in a wide range of fields spanning from education, culture, social, religious services to international aid activities with its 1,003 branches in 149 different countries around the world.

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