Some 26 kilometers away from Beyoğlu where mysterious men handed out envelopes full of cash to impoverished locals, residents of Şahintepe were surprised with the second such act of benevolence, apparently courtesy of a secret philanthropist.
Men working for the philanthropist, whose identity remains a mystery, showed up in the neighborhood, which has shanty dwellings like the Hasköy quarter of Beyoğlu where they first emerged, went door to door last Thursday. They slipped envelopes from under the doors on Laylat al-Ragha'ip, or as is fitting for the philanthropist's mission, the Islamic night of wishes. This time, however, the envelopes, along with TL 1,000, almost half of the monthly minimum wage, was accompanied with a note. "As a brother of yours who will not trade nobility of sharing to the ugliness of selfishness, I would like you to pray for those with nobody to pray for and to those who helped me to reach out to you. Happy Ragha'ip" the note reads.
It is unclear if it was the same philanthropist who handed out cash in Beyoğlu or a copycat benefactor but one thing is clear: The envelopes put a smile or tears of joy on the face of poor recipients eking out a living in this neighborhood situated next to a growing commercial and residential area dotted with towering apartment blocks for the rich. The philanthropist in Beyoğlu was nicknamed "Hızır" by residents, an ancient figure mentioned in the Quran and believed to be a prophet coming to the aid of people in times of need. This time, Hızır arrived in luxury cars with men wearing black. The philanthropist's men refused to talk to the media and quickly left the neighborhood after delivering the envelopes.
Seventy-five-year-old Parlak Kalaycı was among the recipients of the envelopes. Recounting that night in tears, Kalaycı says she found the envelope stuck in the door. "I saw TL 1,000 in it and a note. I cannot read so I found someone to read it the next day. It said it was for aid. May Allah bless whoever this man is and his household," Kalaycı told the Demirören News Agency (DHA).
Speaking to the agency, Kadir Çeçen, another local, said the men asked him if he knew where the families in need lived in the neighborhood and he guided them to some houses he knew. Şahin Eren, another neighborhood resident, said Şahintepe was a poor neighborhood and some families could not even afford to pay the rent. "May Allah bless this man," he added.
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