ISTANBUL (AA) - A Turkish association has said it has been very successful in Africa in providing health and humanitarian aid to thousands across the continent.
Association of the Friends of Africa (TADD) was founded three years ago to stimulate cooperation between African countries and Turkey in health and economic fields.
It also provides aid to the region to boost development. The association has successfully delivered food supplies and has helped in providing clean water throughout the continent.
TADD is currently working in Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Niger. It recently provided free medical treatment to 5,348 Ethiopians via voluntary Turkish doctors, including surgery, gynecological care or dental exams.
Some 143 people underwent surgery, some operations lasting up to 13 hours.
TADD President Bilgehan Guntekin told Anadolu Agency that the association had reached 5,000 people in Africa in the last three years.
The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), the Ministry of Health, Turkish Airlines and various ministries and institutions participated also provided support, said Guntekin.
''The level of poverty I have seen was unbelievable, the reality of living with an income of one dollar or less per day is terrible. Having proper health care is impossible for many.
"Despite the poverty the people are very warm and believers. I saw a community that seemed content with their situation, they are thankful for whatever is shared with them," he said.
"People can lose their lives because they cannot get 3-5 dollars worth of medicine," he added.
Turkish Airlines with 50 direct flights to African countries helped TADD's activities greatly, according to Guntekin.
He said it was impossible to reach some remote areas of the continent if not for Turkish Airlines.
"We set a huge goal for ourselves when we started this journey and we will continue to work until the living standards of the African people become equal to ours," said Guntekin.
Our main goal is to help the African people become self-sufficient.
In particular, in the health sector, our goal is to educate our brothers and sisters in Africa and train them so that they have good health personnel, doctors and administrators that can serve their own people.
''Africa is not as far away as it actually looks, it is actually very close. The resources of Africa are rich beyond what we know. If opportunities are given, the African people can easily overcome the problems on the continent with their own resources,'' he explained.
Guntekin emphasized that the only country serving Africa with no expectations was Turkey.
"Fortunately, our ancestors have left us a glorious past. We never had connections to colonialism. Therefore, in contrast to other European countries, we have a clean past and intentions towards Africa,'' he said.