I have always been someone who likes to be social. I spent time with school, classes, and friends during the first year of my college life. Everything was great but there was something missing. This absence that I was feeling deep inside had become a problem which I couldn’t figure out because I didn’t know what it was.
Then one day, I attended a picnic with an invitation from my father. That was when my story with the yellow vest started. The vest of İyilik Derneği (Association for Goodness); a voluntary aid organization based in Turkiye. İyilik Derneği may be based in Turkiye but sends volunteers to everywhere overseas where they need help regardless of race, language, or religion.
The picnic… It was not organized for us. We went to help out at this picnic for children in need. Because my background is in early childhood education, they wanted me to prepare games appropriate for the kids. I don’t think there have ever been moments greater than those in my life when I felt so peaceful. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said in a hadith “If you want to soften your heart then feed the poor and stroke the head of the orphan”. I felt this the most at that time. Playing with those kids, giving them treats, and being the reason for the smile on their faces… That was all I needed to do to feel peaceful. From that moment on, I kept the yellow vest next to me in my bag. Any time there was something needed to be done, I always said “I am in” first. Because this was an offering from Allah.
Now there was something new added to my college life. Something new other than going to school, studying, and socializing with friends: İyilik Derneği (Association for Goodness). And they were the first in line for me before anything else. If there was a child who needed a home visit, my friends would have come after. I remember even being late to my exams while preparing activities and planning programs for those children. This was such a thing that my grades were always good too. My interactions with my professors at school and my friends were always good. If I had neglected my friends for a different reason, they would have probably been angry with me but when they heard that it was for something like this then they would volunteer too. We were trying together for those children. Since I lived in a small city, transportation was easy and I was able to visit a family quickly and make it back to the class in between hours. I mean of course sometimes I was late. However, my professors never made a big deal out of it. They were even very supportive when it was for something like this.
This was a blessing from Allah to all of us indeed. While we thought that we were helping children in need, in reality, it was Allah helping us by making sure that everything went smoothly. It reads in Surah Muhammad verse 7 that “O you who have believed, if you support Allah, He will support you and plant firmly your feet”. When you could do this from the bottom of your heart, this is exactly what you would live. I was thinking that it was me bringing help to someone but in fact, I was the one who needed help and my Rabb (Lord) sent it to me in the most beautiful way. The feeling of absence and emptiness that I had had was already gone. Those were the times of my most beautiful days when I was able to lay my head on the pillow peacefully.
After college, I came to the U.S. and as a result of being away, one can only provide financial support and cannot be with them physically. I don’t have the same peace that I had back then but as soon as I am back in Turkiye, I will try to gain it back.
Overall if there is something that does not go right in your life, things that make you feel uncomfortable and your conscience does not leave you alone when you sleep at night, you should know that there is something missing. It is either alms that you need to give, or a family or a child you need to feed. Someone is waiting for you. Isn’t there a child, someone in need around you? If not, then take a plate of food or sweets to your neighbor, ask someone you see out on the street how they are doing. And believe that you will sleep very differently at night. 🙂
This post was originally written in Turkish and was translated by our editor Derya Doğan. To read the post in the original language, please click here.
Havva Berfin Yalçın is a mom with two kids who studied Early Childhood Education in her undergraduate. She has been living in Indiana for over three years where they moved for her husband’s education.