A Turkish restaurant in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv has not closed its doors after the war broke out and is presently distributing food to hospitals and civilians in the city.
The word has been around the city that a restaurant is giving away food to people and hospitals for free. It turns out the owner of this restaurant is a Turkish man who has been living in Ukraine for 20 years.
A team of volunteers, none of them a cook by profession, at the restaurant are working relentlessly to prepare food.
“There were 10 Turkish restaurants in Kyiv before the war began. This was a lively city. At my restaurant alone, 100 people worked, including 20 Turks,” recalled Onur Hekim, the owner of the restaurant.
He added the Turkish staff was evacuated, while Ukrainian personnel went to their homes after the conflict broke out.
They are now cooking meals for around 400 people each day, Hekim said.
“On the first day of the war, I posted a message on social media, saying I am looking for volunteers who can cook. Those people reached out to me. We have been using the ingredients we have in our stocks to date. We cook meat, pasta and meatballs.”
He added that the food is being distributed to hospitals, shelters, health care workers and civilians. “We are also trying to deliver food by ourselves.”
When asked why he didn’t leave the city, Hekim responded: “I have been living here for the past 20 years. Ukraine is a second home to me. Everything I have is here…my family, my friends and my job…I never felt like a stranger in this country. It would not be nice if I stayed here when everything is alright but left when things got worse. I am here to help people whom I grew up with.”
Valantina Pributkova, a 55-year-old woman who is in charge of the kitchen, said that she is a tour guide. “I was thinking to myself how I could be of any help to my country and my people after the war began. I decided to come here and cook instead of sitting and waiting at home.”
She said one of her sons is in the army now and that her other son and daughter help her prepare food at the restaurant. “When we are done here, we head back home.”
Hurriyet Daily News