This unbelievably generous Turkish couple spent their wedding day feeding 4,000 Syrian refugees

Photo credit: Kimse Yok Mu
Photo credit: Kimse Yok Mu

By Hyacinth Mascarenhas

Would you give up your wedding day reception to help those in need?

A young Turkish couple did and their remarkable act of kindness has already made headlines around the world.

Fethullah Üzümcüoğlu and Esra Polat tied the knot last week in Kilis province on the Syrian border, currently home to thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled the neighboring country since the outbreak of the civil war four years ago.

Traditionally, Turkish weddings last between 2-3 days ending with a banquet dinner for friends and family on the last night. This couple, however, decided to donate their families’ savings for the wedding feast and share their celebrations with around 4,000 refugees living in the local community:

The generous idea came from the groom’s father, Ali Üzümcüoğlu, an active volunteer at Turkish charity Kimse Yok Mu.

“I thought that sharing a big delicious dinner with our family and friends was unnecessary, knowing that there are so many people in need living next door. So I came up with this idea and shared it with my son. I’m very happy that he accepted it and they started their new happy journey with such a selfless action,” he told i100.co.uk.

He proposed the idea to his 24-year-old son, who agreed.

“When he told that to the bride she was really shocked because, you can imagine, as a bride you wouldn’t think about this—it’s all about you and your groom,” said Hatice Avci, the international communications manager for KYM. “In southeastern Turkey there is a real culture of sharing with people in need …They love to share their food, their table, everything they have. That’s why the bride also accepted. And afterwards she was quite amazed about it.”

On Thursday, the newlyweds paid for the food with money that had been donated for their wedding and banded together with their wedding guests to operate the charity’s food trucks and distribute food to refugee families in the community themselves. They then took their wedding pictures with people at the camp afterwards, according to local media.

Photo credit: Kimse Yok Mu
Photo credit: Kimse Yok Mu

“It was such a wonderful experience,” the bride said. “I’m happy that we had the opportunity to share our wedding meal with the people who are in real need.”

According to the United Nations, more than 4 million Syrians have had to flee their home country with Turkey hosting more than 1.8 million refugees since the conflict began in 2011, about 45% of all Syrian refugees in the region.

“Syrian refugees living in Turkey outside the camp are more in need than the refugees inside the camp,” Avci told Mashable. “Outside the camps, they are in need of the most basic things.”

The groom said he had never taken part in anything like this before and considers it the “best and happiest moment” of his life.

“Seeing the happiness in the eyes of the Syrian refugee children is just priceless,” said Fethullah Üzümcüoğlu. “We started our journey to happiness with making others happy and that’s a great feeling.”

The young groom has also said that his wedding guests were so inspired by his remarkable gesture that they are also planning to do the same at their own weddings.

“They started their journey to happiness by making others happy,” Avci said.

In most cultures, weddings are a grand, lavish affair. Still, the idea of sharing good will in place of an expensive reception is a refreshing and heartwarming gesture that is already inspiring other couples to find similar ways to help people in need.

A young Saudi couple decided to donate their entire wedding budget to a poor village in Djibouti to build a water supply system and houses in the region.

“I urge all brides to be to try something different for their weddings, it was beautiful to share our happiness with those who really deserve to be happy, my family and my husband were on board,” said the bride Baheesa Al Araby during a TedX talk.



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