Some deliver free bread, others sew masks, as Bulgaria’s Turkish community mobilizes to help the Balkan country fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Bulgaria, which had 242 confirmed cases and three deaths so far as of Wednesday, has introduced a state of emergency against the outbreak and closed schools, restaurants and bars. The country hosts a sizeable Turkish population whose roots date back to Ottoman times. Ahmed Mehmed, a law student running his family’s bakery in the village of Lyulyakovo in the Burgas province, is a member of this community. Every day, the young man gives away free bread to impoverished elderly people who visit the bakery, arriving from 15 villages. He also gets in his van occasionally and delivers bread for free to the elderly who cannot come to his bakery. Mehmed says villages are mostly populated by the elderly as the younger population migrated to other countries to work. “We are going through difficult times and the elderly cannot leave home. Still, they come to the bakery and I know that most cannot afford a loaf of bread every day because of low wages. Their wages are around 100 euros and they have to afford medicine, masks and food. I started a campaign called ‘the virus cannot breed in hot bread’ and wanted to give hope to people against the outbreak,” he said.
Elsewhere, a group of Turkish women joined forces to sew protective masks for free. With pharmacies running out of masks fast in a population that can hardly afford to buy them, female members of Mevlana Halk Kültür Association in the town of Dobric came together to help. Four women launched a social media campaign and sewed masks for free for anyone contacting them.
Gülhan Veysel, head of the association, said they wanted to donate masks to anyone in need. Nurten Köse, who brought her sewing machine to the workshop in the association’s headquarters, said it was time for solidarity and help.
In Bisertsi, a village mostly populated by Turkish-background citizens, Mehtap Hatipova, Cevriye Kamilova and Nurgül Ahmedova are gathering at a workshop to sew masks for free for the needy, in reaction to sellers overcharging customers for masks.
In the popular ski resort Bansko, Burhan Nemutlu had to close down his hotel due to the outbreak. However, the hotel’s kitchen remains open. A Turkish businessman joined his chef Selvet Lütova in cooking and delivering hot meals to needy families. His work drew the attention of fellow hoteliers and business people and they decided to expand their campaign. Nemutlu and others now set up a warehouse to store supplies and regularly deliver food to impoverished families. Nemutlu told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they also set up a charity fund for donations to families. “Everyone should do whatever he or she can in these testing times for our conscience,” he said.