December 8, 2023

By Kate Cornwell …

It was with great pleasure that I attended the Secret Santa Day on behalf of CyprusScene online enewspaper.

I knew very little about this day so contacted a lady, Teresa, who with assistance from the expat community helped put on a wonderful afternoon for 84 children from deprived homes. I emailed Teresa before the day to ask about Secret Santa and who the charity was in aid of and how she got involved.

Teresa a few years ago got involved with the SOS village outreach project and they organised a Secret Santa for those children for 4 years. Teresa was having lunch a few months ago and recognised a lady, Rabia Õzcömert, who is the founder of Zeytin Ağacı eğitim ve yardımlaşma derneği. (ZAYDER – President of the Olive Tree Education and Solidarity Association). She got chatting with Rabia and the Mayor of Lapta and in conversation Teresa mentioned what she had done in the past for the SOS and before she knew it she had agreed to do one for the children that the association helped.

Teresa had forgotten that 3 weeks later she was having major back surgery and put out a plea on Facebook asking Cyprus friends to help buy a gift and help support the day as she would only have been out of hospital 3-4 weeks before the Secret Santa Day!! She got Vicki from the Black Olive Cafe on board and also Bestseller Alsancak who offered to be a drop-off point for the presents. Michael Brooks (Mickey) to be Santa, a Face Painter to keep the kids entertained and help from 6+ to be there on the day, to give out drinks, lunch etc. The party was arranged for 28th December  at Karsiyaka Park and the Mayor, Mustafa Aktug, offered to provide the transport from Lefkosa and also the food for all the kids.

On the day two coach loads arrived at Karsiyaka Square and 84 kids disembarked with some helpers and mothers. Luckily it was a sunny afternoon, earlier it had looked a bit ominous but ‘him upstairs’ shone through!  An unexpected surprise was several young Cypriot ladies and guys turned up with 84 presents mainly a bag of clothes for each child.

What a great day for these kids! Plus one of Teresa friends gave 20TL for each child to spend at Mr Pound Plus on the way home back to Lefkosa. It must have been manic at that shop as you can imagine 84 kids running around looking at what they were going to buy – probably the staff went home exhausted!!!

I met Rabia and although she didn’t speak English Teresa’s husband translated for us so that I could understand a little about this wonderful lady, which I am going to write about later on.

The day was such a success and to see all the happy smiles on those children’s faces made me feel so humble.

Well done to all those that assisted Teresa on the day – to all those that donated presents for these lovely kids – to see their smiles has made me so happy and has left me with wonderful memories.

Rabia Õzcömert who is the founder of ZAYDER

I met this lady for whom I have total admiration. Rabia worked as a social worker at SOS Youth House. In order to cope with the pain of losing her child years ago, she started to work on her own and help out with other people’s needs. Later as aids grew the Association was formed and Rabia became president of Zayder. Rabia created a team from the help of elderly people, women who were victims of violence and individuals with special needs.

So what does ZAYDER do? It looks after 2,830 families and has actually existed with studies of people’s needs since 2009 but got established in 2016. Firstly they were helping sick children with apparatus, catheters, feeding syringes, wheelchairs, diapers. Then they were contacted by the elderly and women victims of violence.

The team consists of 20 people and volunteer university students that help clean people’s houses, help with personal care, medical, shopping, home repairs, clothing, the list is endless. They have increased the projects to include helping women to get divorced, those in violent situations and those of rape.

The organisation has set up a Workshop for women who make crafts, they work with sewing and printing machines and after 20 days of training these women are able to work which helps improve their situation. “If we improve women’s conditions we will have overcome many problems”.

This organisation helps in most regions of Northern Cyprus – Karpaz, Girne, Famagusta and Guzelyurt.

They need help in the workshop – as currently they only have 10 sewing machines and urgently need more – CAN YOU HELP.?

Also they want to buy a 6-8 seater minibus. As an example, they can only take 1-2 kids to the dentist which is so time consuming and if they had a minibus then this will speed up the process of so many issues that they deal with every day – CAN YOU HELP?

RABIA’s number is 0548 8372327, as she doesn’t speak English Teresa has offered to help out should you wish to donate monies or help out with the workshop – Sewing machines and so many more items needed. Teresa’s number is 0533 8673530 and or my number – Kate 0533 8673530.

We are all aware of wonderful charities here in Northern Cyprus that do marvellous work for people, animals. BUT this is an organisation that helps so many impoverished families and children in Northern Cyprus and needs every bit of support they can get.

WELL DONE RABIA and your team – for all your commitment and selflessness.

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