Mehmet is seven years old. For the last four years he has been battling with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. His family have been suffering too. F.I.G is trying to help them through these dark and difficult days.
Mehmet wanted to draw a rainbow, so he started with the car and other details along the way. Whilst busily colouring in the picture he says, “I want to be an engineer when I grow up.” He is living with his Mum, Dad, elder brother and little sister in Fethiye. Generally he is a happy intelligent little boy; however he has one big problem as he has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukaemia for the last four years.
F.I.G (Fethiye International Group) is a charitable foundation that raises funds and offers support to children in Fethiye and surrounding villages. It operates under the auspices of FETAV (Fethiye Tourism, Culture and Environmental Education Foundation).
Several weeks ago, in desperation, Mehmet’s grandfather approached FETAV who put him in contact with Susan Tekin, founder and chairman of F.I.G. “The culture of patriarchal honour in Turkey makes it really difficult for a family to ask for help, even in these circumstances,” Sue Tekin explains, “but F.I.G are very pleased to be able to help. I am very happy that F.I.G was approached about this. Now we must raise public awareness about the problem Mehmet and his family are facing.”
Tekin continues. “His treatment has to be carried out in Antalya and chemotherapy has frequently required attendance for 3 days a week – and that is when things are going well. If there is a problem then his stay at hospital can turn into weeks or months. His self-employed father has to accompany Mehmet and his Mum to Antalya. This means he cannot work regularly and as a consequence cannot earn enough money to pay his Bağ kür (social security equivalent) and keep his family. The regular trips to Antalya over the years have cost them thousands of liras. They have often been reduced to sleeping in the car, with all the additional problems which living like that entails.”
Aysema Kalayoğlu is a retired social worker who now helps F.I.G and has been liaising with the family to ascertain exactly how F.I.G can support them. She explains, “some treatments have had to be paid for by the family, so Mehmet’s family and his grandparents are now in considerable debt, having sold almost everything save the roof over their heads.” Following a relapse last year Mehmet and his family were looking at two more years of regular chemotherapy, but the last few months have shown that this is no longer effective in defeating the cancer so it has been suspended and the family have been recuperating at home for the last month. Now doctors are hoping to give him a further bone marrow transplant although no good match has been found to date. Nevertheless they have to carry on.
Mehmet’s elder brother, now 10 years old finds it difficult to concentrate on his schoolwork when his parents are away so much and is undoubtedly affected by the enormous pressure the whole family are under. Mehmet’s little sister, now 18 months old recently suffered an accident at home whereby she lost the tips of 3 fingers on her right hand. She also calls the kindly, registered child minder neighbour – who looks after her for free – Anne (Mum) as she has spent so much time with her.
Tekin continues, “Using the remaining money in our ‘Special needs’ fund F.I.G has paid the Bağ kür fees of 270TL for the last 2 months, this is essential to ensure the continuity of health care for the whole family, especially Mehmet and we are appealing for further donations to help us continue to pay this for the future months.”
The latest report Aysema Kalaycıoğlu has is that Mehmet has “flu”, which in his case can be very dangerous owing to his immune system having been compromised by the chemotherapy. “Help is urgently needed to provide treats for the family or individuals within it, as whilst monetary help is essential in this case community interest and other practical support will be invaluable to this family.”
As chair of F.I.G, Tekin firmly believes that, “with just a little effort from many of us we could make a big and beneficial difference.” She provides details of how and where donations can be made. “Anyone who wants to help can do so at any of our functions or to any of our known members or to FETAV direct. In each case receipts will be issued. Thus we can ensure that the monies raised are properly used and we will keep you in touch with the progress made.”
Susan Tekin. mobile 0533 351 2266 phone 0252 665 5255