Volunteer Coordinator

Birthday: 1979
Nationality: Turkey
Profession: International Relations, BA / Human Rights Law, LLM / Sustainable Human Development, MA
Working at OHF since: 2019

Zeynep, who is originally from Turkey, joined the family in June, leaving Barcelona behind to follow her heart and do something that really matters to her.

She soon became an intrinsic part of One Happy Family, with time and a smile for everyone, the role of Volunteer Coordinator seemed to just ’fit’ with her friendly, cheerful and approachable demeanour. As the Volunteer Coordinator, Zeynep helps all of our international volunteers from the moment they apply, through their time at OHF and even after they leave. With a listening ear, a caring ’can do’ attitude and lots of good advice, she helps everyone to prepare for, settle in and enjoy their time at OHF! Despite her busy new role, Zeynep is always happy to help in every aspect of life at OHF and her love of dishwashing has earnt her the title of Dishwashing Queen!

Of course, we are sure you want to get to know this fabulous person a little more, so we asked her a few questions about her time at OHF:

What is your favourite part of the day?
Days at One Happy Family are hectic, so one needs to find a moment to breath and mine is sitting outside where the guitar students practice and just listening to them. Also washing the dishes outside, especially when the kids join to “help”… it is a mess, but it is so much fun!

My most memorable moment…
It is really difficult to single out one moment, as life here is full of them, those seemingly insignificant interactions that make everything worthwhile. However, I recall a very special moment: an ordinary summer evening, the sun is setting, OHF is about to close, some people are playing ball games in the yard, some are chatting and laughing, others making music, kids running around… I remember that it felt as if every single problem on Earth was outside that gate… and I remember missing that moment as I was experiencing it. It was a very weird, and a quite wonderful feeling which made me realize how much I love this place.

This strikes me the most…
The fact that a hell like Moria exists on this island which is a heaven on Earth; all the contradictions between all kinds of traits of humanity – all the good, the bad and the ugly; everything becoming so real as you get to know and hear the stories of all those people who were simply numbers on the news, without faces or individual stories…

One Happy Family is…
Definitely what the name says: one happy, colourful, yet noisy, overwhelming, crazy (the good kind), challenging family… A breathing space, and an amazing example of how people from all kinds of backgrounds, all walks of life, nationalities, and religions can share a space peacefully, support each other, work together and collaborate in harmony…

This is what I would like to tell other people…
No matter how big or small every effort counts when it comes to solidarity… So, go on, inform yourself, spread the word, donate, sign a petition, volunteer, take action to create the world you want to live in!

We spoke with two of our old volunteers, who were very happy to hear the news of her appointment and wanted to tell you a little about Zeynep, as she is renowned for being very modest:

Rebecca says that “Zeynep is the perfect choice to complete the Coordination Team. The Mother of OHF with her big heart, an open ear and good advice you feel beloved every day.”

Anton added: ”Being at OHF also means being with Zeynep, which is a wonderful thing! She’s got a refreshingly genuine mind, leading herself in decision and opinion making. What a social wealth!”

Thank you Zeynep, your work impacts so many people in such a positive way, you really are a fabulous role model for us all!