IRVINE, Calif., May 14, 2014 – The Orange County Turkish American Association (OCTAA) mourns the deaths and expresses its sympathies with the families of estimated 274 coal miners killed in a tragic mine explosion on May 13 in Soma, a district in the western Turkish province of Manisa. Following an explosion at the private mine owned by Soma Kömür İşletmeleri A.Ş., a fire broke out resulting in a carbon monoxide poisoning of the escaping miners. As many as 120 miners were trapped inside the mine on Wednesday.

As emergency teams continue their rescue efforts, our thoughts and prayers are with the miners who were injured or trapped underground. OCTAA supports the Soma Disaster Relief program organized by the Turkish Philanthropy Fund (TPF) and appeals to the community in Orange County to contribute to this effort.

For a third year in a row, the Orange County Turkish American Association (OCTAA) and its Turkish School (OCTS) successfully raised funds in support of socio-economically disadvantaged girls in rural regions of Turkey.

The illiteracy rate among young women in the eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey is estimated at 45 percent. For many years, the Turkish government and various NGOs have worked to improve the situation. But the economic hardship, restrictive traditions, distance to schools, and insufficient number of dormitories prevented many girls from access to education.

On March 11, 2014, OCTAA organized a fundraiser picnic, celebrating the International Women’s Day in Irvine and raising $2500 for the Girls’ Empowerment Scholarships project managed by Bridge to Türkiye Fund (BTF). Additionally, at the 8th annual celebration of Turkish National Sovereignty and Children’s Day – April 23 – OCTS held a silent auction exhibiting wonderful paintings by our own students under the artistic direction of Nalan Kumlali Atahan.  We are proud to report that our young students raised another $500 to help support girls in Turkey.

Despite the difficulties they face, these girls have high hopes for a better future just like any young girl growing up in developed countries.  This is why the BTF Girls’ Empowerment Program focuses on providing financial support to bright young women from poor families and who show the most potential for success.

With generous contributions from the community in Southern California, OCTAA and OC Turkish School will continue to support education of two students from Erzurum and of a second year law school student, Bahar, from Istanbul University. We greatly appreciate the broad public support for this project, and hope to make a difference in the lives of these young women.

Contact OCTAA for further information about the Girls’ Empowerment Program and to make a contribution to the cause.

 

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OCTAA P. O. Box 6132 Irvine, CA 92616