Former Truck Driver Helps Turkey's Ecology

A 71-year-old resident has grown a forest in a wasteland

Sehmus Erginoglu.
Murat Bayram / Middle East Eye

About twenty six years ago, Sehmus Erginoglu (now seventy one) decided to do something with the abandoned waste site in his hometown of Mardin in southern Turkey. He started by picking up trash, then he laid water pipes and began to plant the first saplings. Today a forest of more than 11,000 trees grows on this site.

Erginoglu worked as a truck driver in his youth and now uses the money he saved to grow trees with the help of the Turkish authorities. According to environmental activists, industrialization and urbanization have had a tremendous impact on the country's ecology and led to the disappearance of green spaces. The former driver says he planted about 20,000 trees in Mardin, some of which form a forest and the others which surround the city's districts. He grows plants in his spare time and looks after them every day, but avoids working in rainy weather.

Although Erginoglu himself prefers the company of trees to the company of people, he enjoys being able to bring happiness to others: “I don’t make any money from it, but it brings me joy. When fruits appear, people come here, eat them, sit under the trees, and feel happy,” he says.