Home>Service> Global Love of Lives Award> 18th Fervent Global Love of Lives Award> Rescue Hero —— Metin Çetiner
【The Rescuer】
“We put NGOs’ dreams into practice and make more dreams come true. Naturally, more people will join us in doing good forever and ever.”
––Metin Çetiner
Kimse Yok Mu Association, a relief organization with over 40 branches in Turkey, has worked with more than 140 NGO partners and human rights groups. Kimse Yok Mu is active in all kinds of humanitarian aid at home and abroad and has led several international relief programs. Metin Çetiner is currently the vice president of KYM. He has involved 170 thousands of volunteers to work in every part of the world during the past 13 years. And more than three million people have made donations to KYM. The association has gained international recognition and was awarded an extraordinary service medal by the Turkish National Assembly in 2008, and a medal awarded by the UN ECOSOC in 2010. It also received medals from Belgium, Haiti, Somalia, Pakistan, Peru, and the Philippines.
Metin Çetiner is always the first one to show up in disaster sites and to lead the relief work in all parts of the world. He is certainly the rescuer who deeply loves all the fellow human beings. Among 2341 candidates around the globe, Çetiner was chosen to be awarded the Love of Lives Medal of 2015 given by Chou, Ta-Kuan Foundation in Taiwan.
A Loving Principal
Metin Çetiner was born in 1962 in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and graduated from the Boğaziçi University Department of Turkish Language and Literature. Being a Turkish teacher for several years, he was deeply loved and respected by students and his colleagues. Later, he became the youngest headmaster and at the same time executive director of the alliance of Private Kasimoglu High School in Istanbul.
Born as an Oghuz Turk, Çetiner carried the tradition and had lofty aspirations. Turkey spans the continents Europe and Asia. Growing up in such a country, Çetiner had been strongly influenced and had trained himself to become a world citizen. He served as the director of International School of Bucharest in Romania in 1996, the principal of Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School in the US in 1998, and executive director of Brooklyn Amity School in New York in 2001.
His secrets of running a school are love, and love, and love. Because of his deep love for education, whether in Turkey, Romania, or the US, Çetiner could always enjoy respect from his students and colleagues of different ethnic groups. News reports can be defined as destabilizing information. If so, the story of Çetiner, a loving principal who had worked in several countries, is very much worth reporting. And if there is one thing which could be a perfect contrast to terrorism, it is the efforts of the loving principal.
Çetiner grew up near the war-torn Middle East. He understood that global instability comes from poverty, lack of education and women’s rights, and ecological destruction. He had changed education with love and reduced problems of global instability with education. His love and kindness has spread far and wide.
From Principal to Rescuer
Kimse Yok Mu Association, the biggest humanitarian aid organization in Turkey, was established in 2002. After its establishment, Metin Çetiner was called back to Turkey to serve as an executive. As a leading NGO, Kimse Yok Mu focuses mainly on volunteer participation and development aid. It has five types of projects, including disaster aid, humanitarian aid, education program, medical aid, and appropriate infrastructure development. With beliefs of social collaboration and solidarity, Kimse Yok Mu develops feasible solutions to help all humans in different regions. And also because of its reliable and transparent core principles, Kimse Yok Mu has become one of the most welcome partners for the United Nations.
Holding that “success doesn’t need to involve me,” Çetiner has collaborated with over 140 NGOs around the world, as well as human rights groups, governments, and NPOs. For example, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), KYM had raised funds for Syrian victims and constructed a school in Erbil, a city in northern Iraq, for the Syrian victims to receive education. KYM had also worked with the President of Kyrgyzstan to renovate campus buildings and dormitories for orphans. Likewise, KYM and the Japanese government had run schools in Hatay Province in Turkey.
Çetiner advocates innovation in public welfare services. KYM provides a broad range of aid services as well as multiple and flexible programs, including both short-term emergency aid and long-term solutions, at home and abroad. Everyone can participate in KYM’s projects directly or indirectly, and provide services according to their specialties and interest. Services include: education, social service, medical service, housing, post-disaster recovery, emergency aid, appropriate development, and provision of food and basic necessities.
Disaster Relief in Bangladesh
Metin Çetiner led a KYM rescue team to Bangladesh after Cyclone Sidr had struck the country. They provided emergency aid and food and blankets. KYM also decided to build a school in Galacpha in south of Bangladesh. It was Çetiner who carried out the whole project and inaugurated the school. Many Bangladesh parliament members also attended the ceremony.
Çetiner always sends help to the needed and the poor, especially children. To help children is to provide them with education, to give them fishing rods, not just fish. Kimse Yok Mu has continually given support to the school, offering teaching materials and aids, reading materials, and teacher training programs. No wonder Çetiner is always in those victims’ hearts.
Relief in Indonesia
Çetiner went to Banda Aceh, Indonesia after the tsunami in 2009. He was in charge of KYM’s rescue program to help victims there. He also founded a school, a Muslim school, after the rescue efforts. Surprisingly, the enrollment rate had reached 100%, which broke the record high of 78% in Indonesia.
Town Construction in Pakistan
Following the 2010 Pakistan floods, members of Kimse Yok Mu, with Çetiner as the leader, came to Multan to provide humanitarian aid for the victims. KYM had donated 18000 packages of food and meat to the needed. After the emergency relief phase, the association decided to raise a project to build a town, named Ilbaliye. They had opened up an area of 32000 square meters to contain 296 homes, a school, a hospital, and many shops. The project aimed to solve the biggest problem there: the lack of shelters.
The construction of Ilbaliye Town was an official project, which was one of the most important and the most sustainable investments in Pakistan. Çetiner was the head of the project. He discussed and implemented every detail of the project with Sahbaz Sherif, the Chief Minister of Punjab Province. Kimse Yok Mu had successfully completed the construction of Ilbaliye and turned the land and property rights back to local residents.
Community Programs
Kimse Yok Mu paid special attention to Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya after a drought had occurred in East Africa. Later, Çetiner began to carry out humanitarian work in these countries. He met with the rulers there, and grasped all information about resources and donations to Africa. After careful assessment, the association finally decided to start community programs in these countries as the top priority. Every community program included establishing schools, hospitals, kitchens, and dormitories.
African communities founded by KYM not only conformed to the primitive living habits of every tribe but also introduced modernized schools, hospitals, kitchens, and dormitories. Education brought hope for children; medical treatment relieved pains, cured diseases, and prevented AIDS and malaria; clean kitchens and dormitories helped improve health conditions. All these had substantially raised the quality of local life.
Solar-powered Hospital Built in Haiti
After Haiti earthquake occurred in 2010, Çetiner was assigned chairman of the long-term relief work by KYM and other NGO partners. He stayed in Haiti for several months to be fully involved in the humanitarian assistance work. Medical services and other donations like food, amounting to US$2,180,161, were delivered to Haiti by him. And he also led the construction of a hospital and gave it back to the Haitian Ministry of Health after its completion.
The first solar-powered hospital in the world was thus born in Haiti. Right after the earthquake, Kimse Yok Mu started to build the hospital at Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, with the help of Haiti’s government. This solar-powered hospital can accommodate more than 400 beds and serve tens of thousands of Haitians. It has six outpatient clinics, three operating rooms, two intensive care units, an X-ray room, obstetrics and gynecology, a blood collection room, laboratories, shops, and kitchens. It was Çetiner who kept this project going. He was good at combining resources from around the world and brought over 140 global partners to do good together. This shows that people in different parts of the world can all join hands and make concerted efforts for a better world.
Rescuing Victims of Hurricane Sandy
The US was struck by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the most destructive hurricane over the past 30 years, and again Çetiner immediately started a rescue team and went to the US to save lives. Collaborating with Helping Hands, a US relief organization, KYM successfully delivered donations to the needed. According to international media reports, the first one arriving at the emergency sites was the Turkey-based KYM rescue team led by Metin Çetiner.
Helping Rohingya Refugees
The Rohingya people are “one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.” They live miserably along the borders of Bangladesh and Myanmar for ages and ages. They have been denied any citizenship and have suffered from human rights violations. They don’t even know how to protect themselves and many refugees have chosen to flee to other countries. They are in urgent need of help.
Under instructions of Çetiner, KYM rescue team has been doing relief work at the borders of Bangladesh and Myanmar. The relief has been extended to more than 90 thousand refugees.
Relief in Somalia and African Countries
In August 2011 KYM’s rescue ship, on which were 7 food packages containing 160 tons of food, set sail for Somalia from Turkey’s Mersin Harbor. Later, a second rescue ship, with 3000 tons of food, clothing, and other goods, also came to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. KYM filled two huge water tanks at Mogadishu, distributed clean water to victims, and provided 22 tons of water for local people every day. KYM also distributed cooked food to 9000 babies every day.
A group of medical personnel, including eight doctors, ten nurses, five lab researchers, and three anesthesiologists, were sent to Turkey’s Ministry of Health and a private hospital for six months training so that they could stay and work in a 60-bed hospital in Somalia. This kind of help has also been carried out in Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia.
A Guest of Clinton
Metin Çetiner often participates in international conferences about relief work and speaks on behalf of Kimse Yok Mu. In 2012, he was invited to attend a banquet in the Clinton Presidential Center in Arkansas and to give a speech about Syrian victims in Turkey. Clinton, the former US President, held his thumb up in approval of what Çetiner has done, and performed the song The Essence of Love for him. As a result, the story of Metin Çetiner doing relief work in all parts of the world has spread to more and more people.
Six Things about Being an NGO Member
No.1: Reflection and Correction
Metin Çetiner often encourages volunteers that once the train leaves the station, there’s no way back. One must have perseverance, modesty, and courage, and then is able to find out one’s own faults and false assumptions. Because of their commitment to their goals, members of NGOs tend to correct themselves instead of sticking to some particular methods or plans.
No.2: Willing to Share Credit
Metin Çetiner thinks that as long as one doesn’t care who gets the credit, then one can truly achieve the success. Sharing credit and following the critical path are connected and inseparable. The more one is willing to share credit, the more people want to help him/her. The real intention of an NGO is to promote reforms. They would surely love to share credit with people.
No.3: Breaking Status Quo
According to Çetiner, NGOs create great values. They can barely earn profits and need a longer time to make ends meet. Thus it’s hard for investors to wait patiently. All innovations include the ability to break from the past. Those who walk out of campus and establish their own organizations should dare to break the status quo.
No.4: Working with People in Different Fields
Çetiner thinks that one of the main functions of NGOs is to play the role of an alchemist. This alchemist should collect different thoughts, experiences, skills, and resources and mix them to create new things for the society in a magical way. When facing problems, NGOs would not hesitate to work with people in different fields. NGOs often pull together people with various experiences and professional skills to produce creative combinations and to come up with feasible solutions.
No.5: Working without Applause
Çetiner also considers that it is rather difficult for NGOs to quantify their influences. What NGOs are doing often remains unknown to the society before they get recognized. But recognition, confidence, connections with people, and social values derived during the work are far more precious than money. With modesty, members can work in loneliness, and that is a core principle of all NGOs. Motivation of members must be very pure so that they can constantly work for public good without applause.
No.6: Strong Moral Motivation
Çetiner believes that NGOs’ motivation comes from moral obligations. If a social welfare project can make people happier and the environment more respected, such a project creates a better future and thus lights up the meaning and value of charity. He said, “We put NGOs’ dreams into practice and make more dreams come true. Naturally, more people will join us in doing good forever and ever.”