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Turkish Couple Celebrates Wedding Day By Feeding 4,000 Syrian Refugees

( [email protected] ) Aug 06, 2015 02:19 PM EDT
A heartwarming story has emerged from the southern Turkish city of Kilis, where a couple recently celebrated their wedding by serving food to more than 4,000 Syrian refugees.
Feeding the 4,000: Newlyweds Fethullah Uzumcuoglu and Esra Polat welcomed thousands of displaced families to their service in the southern Turkish city of Kilis last week, enlisting the help of a local charity
AP photo

A heartwarming story has emerged from the southern Turkish city of Kilis, where a couple recently celebrated their wedding by serving food to more than 4,000 Syrian refugees.

The Daily Beast reports that newlyweds Fethullah Uzumcuoglu and Esra Polat welcomed thousands of displaced families to their service along with the help of local charity Kimse Yok Mu, which offered a catering truck for the event.

While still dressed in their wedding clothes, the couple happily stepping behind the counter in order to serve meals to the Syrian refugees. They also took their wedding pictures with people at the camp, according to local media.

The idea for the huge wedding feast was that of the groom's father Ali Uzumcuoglu, who said he wanted to share the couple's special day with "our Syrian brothers and sisters". He reportedly approached a representative of the organization and proposed that the family would cover part of the costs of feeding refugees for the day.

"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," he said.

"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 added.

"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," says 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." 

Speaking to the Independent, the bride echoed Avci's sentiments, explaining that while she was wary of the idea at first, the experience was ultimately "wonderful".

"I was shocked when Fethullah first told me about the idea but afterwards I was won over by it. It was such a wonderful experience. I'm happy that we had the opportunity to share our wedding meal with the people who are in real need," she said. 

According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, the total number of Syrian refugees in north Africa stands at a shocking 4,013,000 people. Turkey is currently sheltering 1,805,255 of the refugees, making it the largest refugee-hosting country in the world,

With at least 7.6 million people forced from their homes within Syria, nearly half the country's people are either refugees or internally displaced. The conflict, now in its fifth year, has killed more than 220,000 people. At current rates, UNHCR expects the figure to reach around 4.27 million by the end of 2015.

In a recent press release, António Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said the exodus was the biggest refugee population from a single conflict in a generation and called on the international community to step up.

He said: "It is a population that needs the support of the world but is instead living in dire conditions and sinking deeper into poverty.

"Worsening conditions are driving growing numbers towards Europe and further afield, but the overwhelming majority remain in the region. We cannot afford to let them and the communities hosting them slide further into desperation."