Love For Humanity Despite All (2016)
The ninth "Sabanci Foundation Philanthropy Seminar" titled "Love for Humanity Despite All" was held on December 8, 2016 at Sabanci Center with the attendance of Ms. Guler Sabanci (Chairman of Sabanci Foundation Board of Trustees), Ms. Türkan Sabancı and representatives from the public sector, business, media, art community, foundations, associations and universities in Turkey.
Moderated by Sirin Payzin, the seminar on "Love for Humanity Despite All" hosted guest speakers; journalist/author Amanda Lindhout and human rights activist Waris Dirie, who both overcame the challenges they encountered and turned their love for humanity into action.
In the opening speech of the Philanthropy Seminar, Chairman of Sabanci Foundation Board of Trustees Ms. Guler Sabanci emphasized that they organize this seminar each year within the same week of the Human Rights Day on December 10 and continued: "Human rights issues are very important components of the field of civil society. Human rights are the essence of civil society… Human rights are based on the understanding that all human beings are born equal and free in terms of rights and dignity. We can speak of a developed society only if each individual enjoys their rights equally and freely. For this reason we need impactful work that would contribute to social development more than ever".
Stating that each and every contribution to human rights issues is very significant, Ms. Sabanci continued: "We encounter human rights issues in many of our work such as promoting equal participation of people with disabilities into social life, preventing forced and early marriages, supporting equal and sustainable participation of women to education and business life. We can only eliminate the obstacles to human rights by being a part of the solution with a holistic approach and more importantly by taking action powered by our love for humanity”.
The first guest speaker of the seminar, Amanda Lindhout, who is the author of the book; A House in the Sky, emphasized how important it is to find peace within ourselves first for a more peaceful society and world. Lindhout was kidnapped and held hostage in Somalia where she travelled as a journalist. During her speech she mentioned the story of a woman who tried to help her when she attempted to escape from her kidnappers in Somalia: "During my days as a hostage, I realized that I was losing the things that I could never imagine that it was possible to be taken away from me. The light, the sky, even my own name… At times like this, you turn to yourself and try to find courage within yourself. Even if that woman could not save me, it was really important that she gave me power and enabled me to realize that power was something that could be bestowed. I understood that only the people who suffer a lot can make other people suffer this much. Anger and hatred surrounding us is becoming our enemy. When we find peace within ourselves, we can live in a more peaceful society and a more peaceful world. For that reason I moved away from anger and hatred and established a foundation to change the conditions in Somalia ".
The second guest speaker of the seminar, Somalian model and human rights activist Waris Dirie, expressed that ignorance and lack of education lies behind the violence against women and stated that “Gender equality is of great importance, we are not different. We love the same way, live the same way… That is why we need to change ourselves and provide equality. All these issues are caused by two problems: ignorance and lack of education. The reason that I was born was to fight against female genital mutilation that affected the lives of 200 million women, to fight against forced and early marriages and all sorts of violence against women”. Dirie underlined that it is respect that underpins the equality and stated that “We forget the purpose of life. We need to be together and understand each other. This is the only way that we can change the world”.
Canadian award winning author, speaker and journalist Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped by insurgents in Somalia where she travelled as a journalist. Following her release after being held hostage for 460 days, she embarked on philanthropic work and founded the Global Enrichment Foundation to empower women and children in Somalia. The foundation raises donations in order to change the environment of the adolescents to keep them away from the ongoing violence, and contribute to education of women and children. Lindhout released her New York Times bestseller and award-winning memoir A House in the Sky in 2013.
Human Rights Activist
Somalian model and activist Waris Dirie suffered from female genital mutilation at the tender age of 5. When she was 13, she fled from a forced marriage with an older man. After working in several jobs in London she became a model and the face of some renowned brands. From 1997 to 2003, she acted as UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. In 2002, she founded the Desert Flower Foundation to fight against female genital mutilation. In 2010, she was appointed as the Peace Ambassador of the African Union. Her memoir Desert Flower was published in 2008 and filmed in 2009.
For the written document of the seminar please click here...