Dr. Uzunel, a successful ophthalmologist in Turkey, dedicated her annual leave to volunteering in Africa, where she provided medical treatment and trained local colleagues despite challenging conditions. However, she was dismissed from her job in Turkey due to political circumstances in 2016. Despite this setback, she received an award in Canada for her humanitarian work Turkish TR724.com reported.
Dr. Umut Duygu Uzunel is a Turkish doctor who has made a significant impact on the lives of thousands of people in Turkey and Africa. However, after the crackdown on volunteers associated with the Hizmet Movement following the events of July 15th, Dr. Uzunel left her country and settled in Canada. She continued her humanitarian work there and was honored with the Women of Distinction Award by YWCA Toronto, a renowned Canadian aid organization with a 150-year history.
Dr. Uzunel, a successful ophthalmologist in Turkey, dedicated her annual leave to volunteering in Africa, where she provided medical treatment and trained local colleagues despite challenging conditions. During one of her trips to Ghana, she became aware of the coup attempt in Turkey but chose to complete the aid program before returning. However, she became a victim of the unjust decrees (KHK) and was dismissed from her beloved profession. With the unbearable social persecution in her country, she sought refuge in Greece in 2017 and eventually settled in Canada as a refugee.
Even after arriving in Canada, the idealistic doctor continued her active involvement in humanitarian work. She joined The Shoe Project, an organization founded by Canadian writer Katherine Govier thirteen years ago, where immigrant and refugee women perform on stage. Dr. Umut Uzunel, as a doctor, continued to make positive impacts on people’s lives by working with them.
Dr. Uzunel was nominated for the YWCA Award by Advocates of Silence Turkey (AST), an organization that raises awareness of human rights violations in Turkey. Last November, AST submitted her nomination to YWCA Toronto. Despite her surprise, Dr. Uzunel learned in January that she had won the award in the Volunteerism category, as conveyed by the Executive Director of YWCA TORONTO.
During her acceptance speech at the grand gala event attended by around a thousand people at the Sheraton Hotel, Dr. Uzunel expressed her gratitude to Fethullah Gulen, stating that he describes the meaning of life as sacrificing one’s own life for others to live. She thanked him for inspiring her and also reminded the audience of the Hizmet volunteers who are currently imprisoned in Turkey. She emphasized that receiving the award is not only an honor but also a responsibility to be the voice of those who have suffered under oppression and to amplify their voices in the world.
Dr. Umut Duygu Uzunel, who recently graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, continues her volunteer activities in Canada and Africa. She remains dedicated to touching the lives of those living in difficult circumstances and providing them with a glimmer of hope.
YWCA, which is one of Canada’s oldest and most respected non-profit organizations with a history of 150 years, has been presenting the Women of Distinction Awards for 42 years. The awards aim to assist homeless women, girls, and individuals affected by domestic violence in finding safe housing, gaining access to affordable education, and achieving secure employment. YWCA recognizes women in various fields such as health, education, arts, and activism. Dr. Umut Duygu Uzunel was honored with the award in the category of “Volunteerism” for her outstanding contributions.