Turkish food festival embodies peace and positivity

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Anette Baca

Turkish Groceries at the Turkish Food and Crafts Festival Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.

Isaiah Ramirez, Staff Reporter

 The El Paso Strong Turkish Food and Crafts Festival, a fundraising event to benefit the Walmart shooting victims, took place Oct. 19 at the Raindrop Turkish House in east El Paso. The festival featured an abundance of authentic Mediterranean dishes accompanied by Turkish music.    

The Raindrop Turkish House is a branch of The Raindrop Foundation, cultural and educational organization founded in 200by Turkish-Americans from Houston, Texas. 

The foundation’s El Paso location is currently led by Bilal Acikgoz and hosts numerous events throughout the year to educate the community on Turkish culture and to strengthen its own community from within. 

“Turkish House is a cultural center and our mission is to promote peace, harmony, friendship, and introduce the Turkish culture in American society,” Acikgoz said. 

The organization hosts a food and crafts festival twice each year during the fall and spring seasons, but the one for this fall was aimed at aiding those affected by the recent mass shooting that left 22 dead and even more injured. 

“After this unfortunate shooting, we decided today’s proceeds to the shooting victims and to help them and we feel we had to support them and the El Paso community,” Acikgoz said.  

Attendees of the event were treated to authentic Turkish dishes such as kofte, street kafabe and kumpirCommunity members had the chance to experience Turkish culture while giving back to the shooting victims. Young adults, children, and law enforcement were among those that attended. 

“I heard about this event from a couple of friends and I was excited to come, and I think it’s amazing that people are coming together,” attendee Javier Guerra said. “I work in law enforcement and I want to give back to the community in other ways and that’s the reason I wanted to come out today.  

For Acikoz, the tragedy still has him in shock due to the city’s reputation of being a nationally recognized safe city. Several residents remain coping with the incident. 

“I still remember that day and we actually had an internal community event planned that day, and all of us were shocked, and we never expect that kind of thing to happen here. It’s very unfortunate,” Ackioz said. 

The organization plans to help the community heaby promoting its Turkish peaceful ways of living.  

“I think that one way to reduce the risk of these kinds of things is to bring people from different cultures, races, and religions together and they will understand each other better and will not have any hatred towards one another,” Ackioz said.  

The Raindrop Turkish House has upcoming events throughout November, including “Lady’s Coffee Night and a Thanksgiving dinner. 

The El Paso Turkish House is located at 10767 Gateway Blvd. West, Suite 610. The foundation’s website can be found at www.turkishhouse.com. 

Isaiah Ramirez may be reached at [email protected].