A campaign bringing together volunteers from all over the country, which originally began to find foster families, now has nearly 700,000 members who, apart from foster parenting, take part in other acts of charity from the care of senior citizens to teaching lifelong learning courses to the disadvantaged.
The project, formally known as the "Ambassadors of Hearts in Development of Society," was launched in 2012 under the patronage of Emine Erdoğan, wife of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while her husband was serving as prime minister. Since then, the Family and Social Policies Ministry-coordinated initiative flourished across Turkey with Hatay, a southern province on the border with Syria, topping the list of the most volunteers with 220,000 people joining the cause. The total number of volunteers has topped more than 682,000 since its inception. Although ambassadors were originally foster parents, the project soon expanded to include volunteers in other fields. Among them include vocational training of disadvantaged women, helping the disabled and taking care of senior citizens. One member, for instance, volunteers to record audiobooks for the blind while another, a jewelry designer, teaches women how to design jewelry. Doctors volunteer to give free examinations and treatment, while housewives sell meals to fund the expenses of poor students.
The project will also expand abroad in terms of foster parenting with the ministry opening offices in Europe to encourage Turkish volunteers to foster children from dysfunctional Turkish families in the countries where they live.