This brilliant couple from Turkey spent their wedding day feeding thousands of starving Syrian refugees, ditching any lavish traditional banquet reception that could have been attended by prominent family and friends.
Fethullah Üzümcüoğlu and Esra Polat bestowed food to 4,000 hungry Syrian refugees in the border town of Kilis. With the bride wearing an elaborate white dress, complete with a tiara set on her headdress, and the groom sporting a white, black-trimmed tuxedo, the couple stood behind trucks full of meals distributed to hungry Syrians.
Their decision to feed less privileged people they hardly know came up after a bloody civil war broke out nearby.
But it wasn’t really the couple themselves who initiated the idea. It was the groom’s father, who was a volunteer for a Turkish relief organization called Kimse Yok Mu (KYM). For years, KYM has been distributing daily meals to the thousands of poor Syrians living in the border.
The groom’s father proposed to the organization that the family cover part of the costs of feeding refugees for one 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 told the independent blog i100.
The idea came as a shock to his son but was later convinced with the plan. When he told her bride about it, she too was shocked, who never had the slightest imagination of feeding other people for their reception.
“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,” Hatice Avci, the international communications manager for KYM said. “That’s why the bride also accepted. And afterward, she was quite amazed about it.”
On their wedding day, the couple arrived at the KYM distribution center and spent their day serving food and taking photographs with their grateful recipients. Both the groom and bride hope that the act would not end with them but shall be emulated by other couples planning to get married.
Barely a week after the newlyweds did their food distribution at the center, they still were pleased with their decision to forego any personal celebration for a greater good.
“It’s like sharing a dinner with your friends and family who have this kind of thing on a daily basis—or sharing something with people who don’t even have the most basic things,” Avci says. She had just gotten off the phone with the couple before speaking to The Daily Beast. “He told me that the best moment of his wedding was when they had the food distribution.”
Kilis has been a refuge for about 123,000 Syrians who have arrived in Turkey to escape the war. A camp was set in the area with containers for temporary shelter, but there are still many refugees living in the urban areas where access to humanitarian assistance is hardly reliable. The number of Syrians seeking refuge at the Turkish border has gotten bigger that the government had planned to build a new refugee camp to handle the influx.