In an inspiring act of generosity last week, the glamorous young Turkish couple Fethullah Üzümcüoğlu and Esra Polat sacrificed their own wedding feast, instead spending the day feeding over 4,000 Syrian refugees.
Fethullah wore her wedding gown, an elaborate white dress topped with a golden necklace and crown, and Esra wore his tux, looking like something straight out of The Great Gatsby.
Their faces glowed as they patiently passed out the food that they had paid for to a massive crowd whose gratitude was apparent.
Though they had planned a traditional celebration, the groom’s father suggested that they spend the money helping an organization for which he volunteers, Kimse Yok Mu (or KYM), to provide a meal for displaced Syrians. To their father’s surprise, they not only eagerly agreed, but decided to serve the food themselves, on their special day, dressed in their spectacular wedding attire.
The need was obvious, as the couple live in Kilis, a town just across the border from Syria, to which tens of thousands of Syrians turn to escape the crushing poverty and bloody civil war of their own country. Instead of being asked to leave, they are greeted by the people of Kilis into refugee camps where, though they are welcome, they still struggle to secure the basic necessities.
Though it was initially the image of Fethullah and Esra that caught my attention—they appear to have been plucked from the pages of a classic fairy tale—incongruously standing in a make shift kitchen surrounded by a sea of faces which have seen profound suffering, it was their story which grabbed my heart.
For me, as a privileged American, in a country that tries its hardest to keep people out (I can’t imagine our government setting up refugee camps for Mexicans), I was humbled by the transaction. Would I have ever considered, or would it even have occurred to me, to use the money I spent on my own wedding, on helping others?
The true gift and beauty of what Fethullah and Esra did reaches far beyond their willingness to provide a single meal to thousands of hungry men, women and children at the expense of their own wedding celebration. It is the example they have set. Actions like this have a way of getting people thinking, of looking into their own hearts and asking the question, what more could I do?
I feel as blessed to have witnessed their compassionate choice as the crowd with whom they shared food. A seed has been planted within me, and I bet in many others, from which more compassion will certainly grow.
Kindness is contagious—we should do everything we can to help it spread like wildfire.
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~ Dalai Lama
Author: Erica Leibrandt
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: YouTube Still