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Mugla, Turkey

The city of Mugla is the seat of Mugla province which stretches along Turkey`s Aegean coast in the southwest of the country. The Mugla Province has a population of over 715,000. The economy of Mugla relies mainly on tourism from the coastline and agriculture, forestry and marble quarries from the inland. Due to the recent growth of the Mugla University, which has a student population of 16,000, Mugla has found many new visitors as well as a reinvested interest in researching its architectural heritage. Also the Mugla City Museum has a great collection of archaeological and ethnographical artifacts, as well as 9 million years old animal and plant fossils which have recently been discovered.

Greater Fort Lauderdale Sister Cities International partners with The Florida Turkish American Association to collaborate on different initiatives and program for Turkey and to invite our members to participate in the many exciting events the FTA organizes. For more information on the FTA, please click here to visit their website



LOCAL PHYSICIAN PRACTICES WITHOUT BORDERS- Dr Ziya Celik, GFLSCI Turkey Committee Member and husband of GFLSCI Turkey Country Chair, Dr. Ayse Celik

by Mark Brown

February is normally a month for residents and visitors to loll around the pool, work on their tans and amuse themselves watching the frigid weather reports around the country. But for one Lauderdale-By-The-Sea resident, the winter time is all business. Dr. Ziya Celik is spending about six weeks in the Dominican Republic as a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders. He will be working 16-hour days performing dozens of surgeries on poor people who have no other means of getting medical treatment.

For Dr. Celik, the volunteer work is nothing new. He has taken part in medical missions around the world for the past 25 years, working in some of the most dangerous countries and under the harshest of conditions. Although he is retired now, he keeps his medical licenses current just so he can continue to volunteer and make a difference in other people's lives.

"This is what I've been planning to do all my life", said Dr.Celik, who resides at the Corniche condominium with his wife, Dr. Ayse Celik. "What I have gotten from medicine, that's my duty to return back. The medical profession is the most lovable contagious disease you can get. Once you get it, you can't let it go.  Your mind is still there."

Dr. Celik's love of medicine brought him to Nigeria for six weeks last year. Nigeria is torn by war and Dr. Celik found himself working right in the middle of the conflict. In one day alone, he said, he operated on nine patients suffering from gunshot wounds. It was so dangerous in Nigeria that he was issued a secret password in case he was kidnapped and needed to prove his identity to rescuers. He was also given two envelopes filled with medications which he could use to treat himself if he was injured or exposed to any unexpected diseases.

"It was real war when we went over there", Dr. Celik said. "We would hear it in the evenings when they started bombing each other. It was scary, but fortunately I never had a problem or felt threatened.However, he said he got stuck in Nigeria for an extra nine days because it was too dangerous for an airplane to land to pick him up and take him home.

Dr. Celik is a native of Turkey. He grew up in the eastern countryside town of Erzurum and attended medical school in Istanbul. While in medical school he met his wife Ayse, who was also a student. After graduation Ziya went into general surgery and Ayse became a pediatrician. They returned to Erzurum and both practiced for nearly five years before they came to the U.S., when he accepted a research fellowship at Boston University.

In 1972, the Celiks moved to Toledo, Ohio. It took them both four years to train and earn their medical licenses in the U.S. "It was so long I thought I would retire in residence", he recalled. They gained their American citizenship and both went on to practice for more than 30 years before they retired and moved to LBTS in 2007.

Both of the Celiks started volunteering early in their careers with the Midwest Medical Mission, spending several weeks a year in the Dominican Republic. The MMM is a small organization with few resources, and it was up to the doctors and nurses who participated to collect their own medical supplies and transport them. Now, the Celik's are also volunteering with Greater Fort Lauderdale Sister Citie International.

"When we go, we take everything with us", Dr. Celik said. "The nurses, equipment, medications and instruments for doing surgery. The nurses work all year around collecting everything for us. Everybody carries one duffel bag of medical supplies and one personal bag", Dr. Celik said the doctors would take

over one wing of a hospital and the patients would just line up to be seen. "We work 16-18 hours a day", he said. "We know we won't be there long, so the more we do the better it is for them". To make matters worse, there is no air conditioning in the hospital or the hotel where they stay. Despite the primitive conditions, Dr. Celik said his biggest regret is that he doesn't get to do the full range of post-operative care that he would like.

Since his retirement, Dr. Celik has volunteered with Doctors Without Borders because he has more time available now. He said Doctors Without Borders is different than the Midwest Medical Mission in that it is a worldwide organization with a financial base of its own. In many countries, he said, they own the hospitals where the doctors work, and they provide all the equipment and medications. Dr. Celik has already done two stints in war-torn Sri Lanka and one in Nigeria, and he may go back to Nigeria again next year. "It's my duty to help", he said.

Turkish Coalition of America Donation to Operation Helping Hands for Cholera Relief in Haiti Fort Lauderdale 

On Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 11:00AM the Florida Turkish American Association hosted an event with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen at the Florida Turkish Center to commemorate a donation of $50,000 from the Turkish Coalition of America to Operation Helping Hands.  The donation will be used to alleviate the cholera epidemic that has struck Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake in 2010.

For more information, photos and videos, please click here.

To listen to an interview with one of the FTAA members from the Miami Herald about the unrest in Egypt (FL Congresswoman shares concerns over unrest in Egypt), please click here.

TCA Donates $100,000 to Help Haiti Earthquake Victims

On February 7, 2011,the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) presented a $ 50,000 donation to Operation Helping Hands to help victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  TCA had previously donated $50,000 to Operation Helping Hands and to Cross International, another relief organization, bringing the total TCA donation for the Haiti relief efforts to $100,000.  The donation ceremony was held at the Florida Turkish American Association (FTAA) Turkish House with the participation of Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in whose district Operation Helping Hands is headquartered, Joe Pena of The United Way and Serap Odabas-Yigit, President of FTAA. Congresswoman Lehtinen praised TCA and Operation Helping Hands for their efforts to provide vital assistance to the people of Haiti. The event received coverage in the Miami Herald and the Bradenton Herald and on local television networks. The Turkish Coalition of America hopes that this donation will provide clean water and vital materials to alleviate the suffering of those suffering from the recent outbreak of cholera said G. Lincoln McCurdy, TCA President. The Turkish American community continues to be responsive to the needs of the Haitian people; and we hope that this donation inspires others to contribute to this worthy cause.  In Haiti, more than 4,000 people have died from cholera and 209,000 have been infected since October. The TCA grant will be used for buying and installing water filtration systems in affected areas in Haiti. These water filtration systems can process 10,000 gallons of water a day and are guaranteed for five years. The funds will also be used for the continued to distribution of personal hygiene kits and water rehydration kits.  "We thank the Turkish Coalition of America for providing this donation to Operation Helping Hands said Joe Pena of The United Way. The continued generosity of TCA has helped our organization and others to provide life-saving supplies to the grief stricken nation of Haiti. 

For more information on issues related to US-Turkey Relations and Turkish Americans, please visit


Washington, DC 1025 Connecticut Avenue, NW Ste., 1000 Washington DC 20036 Phone: 202-370-1399 ext:4 Fax: 202-370-1398

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