By Margaret Sheard
Following the launch of the Flying Angels with our article in January 2013 (to see this click here ) it was decided that there would be a public meeting on Saturday 6th April and this was held at 10am at the GAU Millennium Building Congress Hall. As well as the general public, representatives of various Municipalities and other NGO’s were invited to the meeting so that they could hear about the concept and raise any questions they might have. It would have been nice to see more expatriates present and a bit more media and newspaper presence, however, there was a reasonably good sized audience there to learn about the Flying Angels and give support.
The meeting was opened by Tulin Bodamyalı who welcomed the audience and informed them of the basic infrastructure of the Flying Angels which is headed by 3 Faculties of GAU – Pre-School Education Department, the Psychology Department and the Nursing School. Tulin introduced the members of the team – Gűnay Beyzade who is the Co-ordinator, Meryem Cuma and Mehmet Toran, unfortunately the members of the team from the Psychology and Nursing Faculties were unable to be present but they were represented by Eda Tűrkmen (Nursing) and Pinar Ergűneş (Psychology). There was a large screen at the back of the stage where a slideshow, which was primarily in English, was shown as each of the speakers gave their address to the audience.
Mehmet Toran from the Pre-School Education Department gave a presentation on his part of the concept which is pre-school education for children in the age groups 0-2 and 3-6 years which would involve students taking care of children during the day and in certain cases during the evening. The program would involve creating a safe environment, nutritional care and education. There will be a play group which will teach the children new skills and encourage their development. For children 0-2 years the program will be for specific times during the day. For children in the age group 0-6 years there will also be parental guidance included. The pre-school team was introduced to the audience.
Next a representative of the Nursing group took the stage, this was Eda Tűrkmen who said that their primary responsibility was individual care for the elderly and children with specific problems. The group would be concentrating on support to help with day to day living and to help people when they have limitations due to health problems and improve the quality of life in their own homes. The service will be available to all sections of the community.
Pinar Ergűneş represented the Psychology Department and told the audience that psychological support would be available from 3rd and 4th year students to all members of the community, not only to individuals but also for their families. Many cancer patients need psychological support and also family members who find it hard to accept and cope with the problem. Pinar brought up the subject of Dementia and Alzheimer’s and the back-screen showed the warning signs to look for in these two cases. Alzheimers is a form of dementia causing problems such as loss of memory, thinking and behaviour and can cause much distress to relatives who are close to the patient and perhaps not fully aware at the onset of this problem.
There followed a question time and some of the audience were keen to ask their specific questions. One of the questions was whether students visiting people in their homes were vetted by police checks etc. and this was answered that all of the students undergo this type of security vetting when they enter the University, another question was regarding monitoring the work carried out and there was an assurance that this would be done. As some of the questions from the audience were from Turkish speaking people it was not possible to understand all that was asked but I did get the impression that everyone seemed satisfied with the responses and congratulations were given on a first class presentation of the Flying Angels concept.
The Co-ordinator of the project, Gűnay Beyzade, gave a short talk, as did Meryem Cuma who is to be the contact point for the English speaking community.
The Chancellor and Founder of GAU, Serhat Akpinar, also gave a short speech in which he said that the vision of this service was his and, with a professional team, initially it will be confined to the Kyrenia area but he eventually wants to cover all of the island.
In bringing the presentation to a close, Tulin Bodamyalı thanked everybody for their interest and went to great length to express the importance of expatriate involvement in bringing news of the scope and services of the Flying Angels project to the attention of other expatriates.
Without doubt this is a ground breaking project backed by Girne American University with all of its resources to bring a much needed social service to all communities initially in the Kyrenia area but the long term plan is to extend its operations to the whole of North Cyprus.
From an expatriate perspective and most English speaking expats are of retirement age, this should bring yet more comfort to know that greater care and support for the elderly will become available here in North Cyprus and the prospect of returning to the UK is perhaps no longer necessary.
Clearly in the ensuing months, as this project develops further, we will learn a lot more of what the Flying Angels volunteers can and are doing to look after the various communities in North Cyprus.